Life lessons from science’s brightest star

Wise words: “Look up at the stars and not down at your feet … be curious.” © Getty

What can we learn from Stephen Hawking? Superstar scientist, renowned writer and inspiring teacher — Hawking achieved all this despite huge hardships. Some see a life lesson for us all.

What’s happening

Stephen Hawking, one of the world’s most famous scientists has died. In 1963 he was given just two years to live after contracting a rare disease. But he defied the doctors to live for another 55 years. In that time he wowed millions of people across the world with amazing scientific breakthroughs.

Find out more

Hawking’s spent his life working on the biggest questions in physics, including why the universe exists and how black holes work. But he also battled against his medical condition, which forced him into a wheelchair and took away his speech (he talked through a computer instead).

But he did not let that stop him. In 1988 he released one of the most popular science books ever written: A Brief History of Time.

Ever since then, people flocked to his talks to learn all about the mysteries of space. Despite Hawking being in a wheelchair, he even hoped to go to space himself. Unfortunately, he never got the chance. However, he did ride in a special anti-gravity plane — becoming the first person with his disability to ever fly in zero gravity.

Some say…

His life teaches us how to triumph over hardship, some argue. Hawking’s amazing achievements speak for themselves. But that he did all those things while fighting his crippling disability is the true achievement. It shows that we can all overcome the worst circumstances if we only believe we can.

Others think…

There is more to it than that, others say. It is not that he beat his difficulties, but that his disability made him who he was. It forced him to work harder, think more clearly, and make the best of the time he had. The message is not that any hardship can be defeated, but that even the worst times can produce wonderful things.

You Decide

  1. Is it good to experience difficulties in life?


  1. Write down the name of the one famous person that you most admire (it does not have to be Stephen Hawking). Share your choice with the class. Are there any popular choices? How many scientists did you choose as a class? Should scientists be more celebrated by society?

Some People Say...

“However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.”

Stephen Hawking

What do you think?

Word Watch

An area of science concerned with forces and how objects interact with each other.
Absolutely everything that exists in space.
Black holes
A point in space where gravity is so strong that nothing can escape — not even light.
A force that attracts things to the centre of the Earth. (It stops us flying away into space).
A great victory.


PDF Download

Please click on "Print view" at the top of the page to see a print friendly version of the article.