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.
"Science is not only a disciple of reason but also one of romance and passion."
– Stephen Hawking pic.twitter.com/1X4J51EbAh
— World of Engineering (@engineers_feed) April 20, 2023
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."
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.