The famous last words of 10 big thinkers

While shuffling off their mortal coils, these giants of thought had some parting words.

  • The last words by Richard Feynman, Sir Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Leonardo Da Vinci, Stephen Hawking and more.
  • Leonardo Da Vinci was not as proud of his accomplishments as you'd think.
  • Voltaire quipped even as he was dying.


Karl Marx's famous last words were, quite poetically, "Last words are for fools who haven't said enough." But some of science's greats have had some great parting words as they slipped off this mortal coil. Apropos of nothing, here's a collection of our favorites:

Thomas Fantet de Lagny: Mathematician. As he was fading, he was apparently asked "what is the square of 12?" (or, "what is 12 x 12?"). His last words were, fittingly, "One hundred forty-four."

Richard Feynman: Physicist. "I would hate to die twice. This dying business is boring."

Sir Isaac Newton: Physicist. “I don't know what I may seem to the world. But as to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore and diverting myself now and then in finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than the ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me."

Joseph Henry Green: Surgeon. He was listening to his own pulse as he died. Eerily, his last word was: "Stopped."

Leonardo Da Vinci: Inventor, painter, and all-around renaissance man: "I have offended God and mankind because my work did not reach the quality it should have."

Albert Einstein: Physicist. Albert's last spoken words were in German, but the nurse attending to him at that time only spoke English. He was, however, working on a speech he was to give a few days later celebrating the anniversary of the state of Israel. It ends with an incomplete sentence:

In essence, the conflict that exists today is no more than an old-style struggle for power, once again presented to mankind in semireligious trappings. The difference is that, this time, the development of atomic power has imbued the struggle with a ghostly character; for both parties know and admit that, should the quarrel deteriorate into actual war, mankind is doomed. Despite this knowledge, statesmen in responsible positions on both sides continue to employ the well-known technique of seeking to intimidate and demoralize the opponent by marshaling superior military strength. They do so even though such a policy entails the risk of war and doom. Not one statesman in a position of responsibility has dared to pursue the only course that holds out any promise of peace, the course of supranational security, since for a statesman to follow such a course would be tantamount to political suicide. Political passions, once they have been fanned into flame, exact their victims … Citater fra…

Archimedes: Mathematician. According to historians, Archimedes died in 212 B.C. during the Second Punic War. He was approached by a member of the Roman army and asked to move along. Archimedes apparently got so mad that he said either "Stand away, fellow, from my diagram!" or "Don't disturb my circles!". The soldier killed him on the spot.

Benjamin Franklin: Scientist and politician. "A dying man can do nothing easy."

Voltaire: French writer and philosopher. As he was dying, a priest asked him to renounce Satan. Voltaire, quippy even in death, said: "Now is not the time for making new enemies."

Stephen Hawking: Theoretical physicist. His final words were actually from a speech he made a few years prior to his death, although the song below, set to original music by the musician Vangelis, was played at his funeral and is currently on its way towards the nearest black hole.

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