Stephen Hawking discusses theories on the origin of the universe in a talk in Berkeley, California, March 13, 2007 © Kimberly White / Reuters

Stephen Hawking, a legendary physicist, cosmologist and author of several course-altering books died at the age of 76 on Wednesday. In a brief look back at his legacy, here are some of the great quotes from the stellar scientist.

Diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease) and given two years to live, Hawkings would surprise his detractors and go on to lecture across the planet and write books such as ‘A Brief History of Time’ and ‘The Universe in a Nutshell.’

READ MORE: Physicist Stephen Hawking dies at the age of 76

The former University of Cambridge Lucasian Professor of Mathematics was renowned for his contributions to gravitational physics and quantum mechanics, but many remember him for his astounding wit, shrewd skepticism blended with faith in humanity, and his profound understanding of the human spirit. Here are just a few of his best anecdotes – a full list would take almost as long as he lived to compile, and picking out ‘the best’ from the wealth of wisdom he left behind is a futile endeavor.

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.

December 16, 2015 © Toby Melville / Reuters

If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn’t turn out well for the Native Americans. We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet.

April 12, 2016 © Lucas Jackson / Reuters

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

October 31, 2008 © Osservatore Romano / Reuters

One, remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Two, never give up work. Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it. Three, if you are lucky enough to find love, remember it is there and don’t throw it away.

FILE PHOTO: Stephen Hawking and his wife Elaine © Alonso Gonzales / Reuters

My advice to other disabled people would be, concentrate on things your disability doesn’t prevent you doing well, and don’t regret the things it interferes with. Don’t be disabled in spirit, as well as physically.

FILE PHOTO: Stephen Hawking at the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympic Games © Action Images / Steven Paston / Reuters

So next time someone complains that you have made a mistake, tell him that may be a good thing. Because without imperfection, neither you nor I would exist.

Stephen Hawking with former South African President Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, May 15, 2008 © / Reuters

My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.