When Zayn Malik dramatically departed his man-band One Direction last month, it sent shockwaves around the world. According to no less an authority than Stephen Hawking, however, it may have reverberated differently in other worlds, and in some it might not have happened at all.
The astrophysicist immortalized in last year’s Oscar-winning The Theory Of Everything was speaking at the Sydney Opera House in hologram-form when he received a rather soft line of inquiry: “What do you think is the cosmological effect of Zayn leaving One Direction and consequently breaking the hearts of millions of teenage girls around the world?” Instead of expressing any hint of exasperation, Hawking took the question at face value and turned it into a teachable moment about multiverse theory.
Before the Q&A portion of the evening, Hawking had issued a dire warning about the future of humanity. (“I don’t think we will survive another 1,000 years without escaping beyond our fragile planet,” he said through his famous electronic voicebox.) Considering the heavy subject matter, he might have easily dismissed the question or related it to the squandering of our remaining years on this planet. Instead, he charmingly explained that there is quite possibly another universe in which Zayn is still in One Direction, confirming both an awareness of pop culture and the sense of humor hinted at in a recent collaboration with Monty Python.
Boy band-members, teenage girls, nerds–everybody wins here. Thank you, Professor Stephen Hawking!