wisdom to win

 Wisdom to Win
search bar left
search bar right

Stephen Hawking - Creativity and ScienceStephen Hawking - Creativity and Science


Stephen Hawking (1942- )


English scientist (pictured right).

From 1979 to 2009 held the professorship of mathematics at Cambridge University, once held by Isaac Newton (pictured right below).

Parlaysed by motor neurone disease.Stephen Hawking - Creativity and Science

His marriage to Jane is portrayed in the 2014 film, The Theory of Everything, starring Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones.


His most famous book is...

A Brief History of Time (1988)

This made him world famous


Why is he so creative?


1. Purpose

Hawking fanatically pursues one gigantic aim:

To completely understand how and why the universe and people exist.

To do this, he stretches his mind and imagination to think the unthinkable (i.e. to prove things that other people think are crazy).


2. Determination

Hawking  is ruthlessly determined and motivated because of his:


a) ambition

He is driven by his dream of understanding the universe (see point 1).


b) motor neurone disease

(and its consequent paralysis and continual threat of death)Stephen Hawking - Creativity and Science

This has motivated him to achieve greatness as quickly as possible.

“He will do what he wants to do at any cost to anybody else”,says his daughter, Lucy (pictured right together).


c) positive thinking

In hospital, he was in bed next to a boy who died of leukaemia. Every time he feels low, he thinks of that boy, and counts his blessings.


d) sense of humour 

He says his computer generated voice is American, because women prefer it!

 Stephen Hawking - Creativity and Science

3. Fantastic memory and concentration

Hawking (pictured right in 2006) gets totally absorbed in anything that interests him.

When thinking about a problem, he:

  • concentrates on what’s important
  • eliminates unnecessary detail.


 Stephen Hawking - Creativity and Science

4. Discussion and continual questioning

He learns from:

  • discussing and exchanging ideas with other scientists (like the mathematician, Roger Penrose, pictured right).
  • clearly explaining his ideas.
  • continually questioning existing knowledge
  • asking the right questions.


5. Love of science and hard work

Hawking works hard, because he loves doing it.

“Scientists and prostitutes get paid for doing what they enjoy”, he says.


6. Inspiration

His hard work has produced moments of inspiration, particularly his idea that a black hole can never decrease.

This came to him in November 1970, as he was getting ready for bed.


7. Intuition and thinking ahead

He just knows, if an idea is correct or not (just like a musician, playing by ear)

His great strength is to think ahead and jump to a conclusion.Stephen Hawking - Creativity and Science

If his original idea is wrong, this leads him to new ideas and so on.

This is Karl Popper’s (pictured right) idea that you find a better theory by disproving an inferior one.


8. Revolutionary ideas

He managed to prove the revolutionary idea that black holes give out thermal radiation like a hot engine (now known as Hawking Radiation).

Some physicists wouldn’t believe him, but he proved them wrong.

 Stephen Hawking - Creativity and Science

9. Interdisciplinary thinking (using different subjects)

He applies mathematics to physics, but what made his work revolutionary was its use of:

  • thermodynamics (the study of heat and motion).
  • quantum mechanics.

 Stephen Hawking - Creativity and Science


10. Self-confidence and support

He knows he’s brilliant, and doesn’t have to boast about it.

Despite divorcing them, he has also received great physical and emotional help from his two wives

  • Jane, pictured right above at their wedding in 1965.
  • Elaine, pictured right below at their 1995 wedding.

Stephen Hawking - Creativity and Science

Key quotes on learning and knowledge

The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.


Key quote on creativity

I work on intuition, thinking that an idea ought to be right, then I try to prove it.


Key quotes on success

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

People need not be limited by physical handicaps as long as they are not disabled in spirit


Key quote on relationships

It is a waste of time to be angry about my disability...People won’t have time for you if you are always angry or complaining.


Key quotes on climate change

By 2600, the world population would be standing shoulder to shoulder and the electricity consumed would make the earth glow red-hot.

We have to reverse global warming urgently, if we still can.


Key quote on change

Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.


Key quote on science and religion

Science makes God unnecessary.

Free Newsletter
Enter your name and e-mail address to receive our free newsletter with analysis of business issues and new business books