Stephen Hawking
Stephen Hawking is celebrating his 74th birthdayTim P Whitby/Getty Images

Stephen Hawking turns 74 on 8 January, and it seems like the understatement of the century to describe the lauded theoretical physicist's career as impressive when looking back on it. Growing up in Oxford, England, a young Hawking studied at the University Of Cambridge, California Institute of Technology and Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics before becoming one of the most prestigious names in the fields of general relativity and quantum relativity.

He has earned a BA Honours from the University Of Oxford as well as getting himself a PHD from Cambridge too, and he even became the basis of an Oscar-winning biographical film in 2015, when The Theory Of Everything starring Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne as Hawking was released.

However, it's not all been plain sailing, as those of you who have seen the film will know. Almost as iconic to his celebrity as his brilliant mind is Hawking's tragic illness that he has been suffering from since his diagnosis at 21. Motor neurone disease, or Lou Gehrig's disease as it is also known, is usually terminal within two years of diagnosis or less, and the extend to which Hawking has defied the disease for all these years is inspiring. The progression of the disease has taken its toll but he certainly doesn't let it get to him, as you will read in some of the quotes that we've compiled.

Check out which of Hawking's endlessly humourous and inspiring one-liners made IBTimes UK's pick of the best, in honour of his birthday...

Stephen Hawking ill Cambridge BBC
Stephen Hawking at an event in CambridgeNeil Hall/Reuters

"We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the universe. That makes us something very special."
Der Spiegel (1988).

"Look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see, and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious."
From his 70th birthday lecture in Cambridge (2012)

"It is a waste of time to be angry about my disability. One has to get on with life and I haven't done badly. People won't have time for you if you are always angry or complaining."
Return Of The Time Lord, The Guardian (2005).

"At school, I was never more than about halfway up the class. It was a very bright class. My classwork was very untidy and my handwriting was the despair of my teachers. But my classmates gave me the nickname Einstein, so presumably they saw signs of something better. When I was 12, one of my friends bet another friend a bag of sweets that I would never come to anything. I don't know if this bet was ever settled, and if so, which way it was decided..."
From the lecture: My Brief History (2010).

"I am discounting reports of UFOs. Why would they appear only to cranks and weirdos?"
TED talk Asking Big Questions About The Universe (2008).

"I have no idea. People who boast about their IQ are losers."
Interview with Deborah Solomon: The Science of Second-Guessing, The New York Times

Stephen Hawking with his second wife Elaine Mason in 2005
Stephen Hawking with his second wife Elaine Mason (now divorced) in 2005Getty Images

"Women. They are a complete mystery."
New Scientist (2012).

"There is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority, [and] science, which is based on observation and reason. Science will win, because it works."
To Diane Sawyer/ABC News (2010).

"The downside of my celebrity is that I cannot go anywhere in the world without being recognised. It is not enough for me to wear dark sunglasses and a wig. The wheelchair gives me away."
Interview on Israeli television, as quoted in Happy 65th Birthday to Prof Stephen Hawking! at (2007).

"I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I'm not afraid of death but I'm in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first... I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark."
Stephen Hawking: There Is No Heaven; It's A Fairy Story, The Guardian (2013)

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