Fact Check

Did Stephen Hawking Say Science Has 'Romance and Passion'?

The late scientist was known for both his scientific and literary prowess.

Published July 22, 2023

Professor Stephen Hawking delivers his speech at the release of the 'Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists' on January 17, 2007 in London, England.  ((Photo by Bruno Vincent / Getty Images))
Professor Stephen Hawking delivers his speech at the release of the 'Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists' on January 17, 2007 in London, England. (Image Via (Photo by Bruno Vincent / Getty Images))
Claim:
Stephen Hawking once said, “Science is not only a disciple of reason but, also, one of romance and passion.”

Stephen Hawking was a prolific scientist, writer, and public intellectual. His scholarship on gravitational singularity theorems and the composition of black holes earned him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, as well as a senior role at the University of Cambridge — all while battling motor neurone disease, a rare condition that progressively degrades the muscular and nervous systems.

Posts regularly make the rounds attributing a quote about the "romance and passion" of science to the late Hawking.

 

 

While inspirational-quote sites are among the most common accidental offenders in the world of misinformation, this attribution is tried and true. It comes from a 2010 Q&A in Parade magazine, in response to a question about the future of human space exploration.

"Couldn't we discover the same things with less difficulty and risk using robots?" the interviewer asked. 

"Similar knowledge might be obtained by robots, but humans are an adventurous species," Hawking replied. "We like to explore and are inspired by journeys to the unknown. Science is not only a disciple of reason but, also, one of romance and passion. Exploration by real people inspires us."

The quote has also been referenced by mainstream news outlets, such as Time Magazine and NBC.

Hawking died in 2018. He was 76, having lived with motor neurone disease for over five decades. In the past, Snopes has also fact-checked Hawking's statements on AI, his ties to anti-Vietnam War protests, and the false reports of sexual misconduct allegations against him.

Sources

Evon, Dan. "Stephen Hawking at a Vietnam War Protest?" Snopes, 14 Mar. 2018, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/stephen-hawking-vietnam-war-protest/.

"Was Stephen Hawking Accused of Sexual Misconduct?" Snopes, 13 Nov. 2017, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/was-stephen-hawking-accused-misconduct/.

Jayshi, Damakant. "Did Stephen Hawking Warn Artificial Intelligence Could Spell the End of the Human Race?" Snopes, 3 May 2023, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/stephen-hawking-ai-human-race/.

Overbye, Dennis. "Stephen Hawking Dies at 76; His Mind Roamed the Cosmos." The New York Times, 14 Mar. 2018. NYTimes.com, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/14/obituaries/stephen-hawking-dead.html.

Parade. "Inside a Great Mind." Parade: Entertainment, Recipes, Health, Life, Holidays, 12 Sept. 2010, https://parade.com/37704/parade/12-inside-a-great-mind/.

Questionable Quotes Archives | Snopes.Com. https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/category/quotes/. Accessed 17 July 2023.

"Read Some Of Stephen Hawking's Most Memorable Quotes." Time, 14 Mar. 2018, https://time.com/5198842/stephen-hawking-quotes-universe-life/.

StackPath. https://www.mndassociation.org/about-mnd/mnd-explained/what-is-mnd. Accessed 17 July 2023.

"Stephen Hawking Speaks Out On Space Exploration, Time Travel." NBC News, 13 Sept. 2010, https://www.nbcnews.com/id/wbna39150477.

Sarah Baum is a former reporting fellow for Snopes.