7 Facts About Stephen Hawking That Weren't in The Theory of Everything
The life and body of work that theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking had and created has continued to fascinate the world since he first entered into the scientific and pop-culture mainstream in the mid-20th century. And while, sadly, Hawking died on March 14, 2018, he will not soon be forgotten, if only because he had such a major impact on the way humanity perceives and understands its place in the universe.
One of the best ways you can remember Hawking in the wake of his sudden death and appreciate his impact (especially if you're a fan of a good movie biopic) is by having a special viewing of the critically acclaimed, Oscar-nominated film The Theory of Everything. Released in 2014 and starring Eddie Redmayne as a Hawking, the film follows the prodigious young man from his days at Cambridge in the 1960s, where he began some of his most important inquiries into the origins of the universe as we know it. Parallel to this, The Theory of Everything also follows Hawking's personal life, through budding young love to the tragic medical diagnosis that would change his life forever.
Of course, as is the case with many a movie, there are some things that got left out of the film, like small details about what Hawking's life was really like. So, for those curious to know, here's what got left out of The Theory of Everything that actually happened IRL.
1. Stephen Hawking's marriage to his second wife also ended in divorce
The Theory of Everything depicts the challenging marriage between Stephen (Redmayne) and Jane Hawking (Felicity Jones). Eventually, the couple divorced and Stephen married his nurse, Elaine Mason (Maxine Peake). Stephen and Elaine divorced in 2006, after 11 years of marriage.
2. There were allegations of abuse made against Elaine
In 2003, Stephen Hawking's own daughter, Lucy, reported mysterious injuries on her father to the police. According to the Daily Mail, "Prof. Hawking declined to explain how his injuries had come about. A number of his former nurses, however, were in no doubt. They alleged that over the years his wife inflicted a catalogue of injuries on the vulnerable scientist: fractured his wrist by slamming it on to his wheelchair; humiliated him by refusing him access to a urine bottle, leaving him to wet himself; gashed his cheek with a razor, allowed him to slip beneath the water while in the bath, ensuring water entered the tracheotomy site in his throat; and left him alone in his garden during the hottest day of the year so long that he suffered heatstroke and severe sunburn."
3. He believed in aliens & was afraid of them
On the Discovery Channel show, Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking, the astrophysicist claimed that aliens could well and truly exist. As he put it: "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. Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonize whatever planets they can reach. To my mathematical brain, the numbers alone make thinking about aliens perfectly rational."
4. The way he was diagnosed is incorrect
According to Time magazine, the portrayal of doctors diagnosing Hawking with ALS after a severe fall is not quite true. His first fall happened at Trinity School, and in that fall, his front teeth were knocked out and subsequently replaced. The second fall happened in Germany, which then prompted the visit to the doctor's to figure out what was wrong.
5. Jane & Stephen were polar opposites
While Stephen came from a highly intellectual family that some even called eccentric, Jane Wilde came from less academically minded parents. Her choice to attend university back in the 1960s was considered to be quite bold because she was a woman. However, it's this polarity in the relationship that really sparked Redmayne's interest. "They were very different people, both extraordinary yet polar opposites. The idea of two human beings completing one another and defying all the odds I found compelling — and oh, was it romantic!" said Redmayne.
6. He believed robots could one day take over the planet
Hawking didn't trust artificial intelligence, claiming in a 2014 BBC interview that they had the potential to supersede the human race at some point in the future. "The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race,” he said. "It would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever-increasing rate. Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn't compete and would be superseded."
7. Jane & Stephen didn't live in Cambridge the entirety of their marriage
Again, according to Time, the Hawkings actually moved around rather than remain in Cambridge during their marriage, as the film would have had us believe. In fact, Hawking's work took the family to Cal-Tech in 1975 for a one-year professorship before they moved back home to England.
A version of this article was originally published in January 2015.