The Stephen Hawking biopic, The Theory of Everything, is on at the Cineworld cinema just over the bridge from the school – students went to see it last week, and enjoyed it, from what I can gather. I’ve seen it too, and can confirm that Eddie Redmayne does a pretty impressive descent into motor neurone disease.
It is quite a few years now since I last saw Stephen Hawking motoring around Cambridge – he retired as Lucasian Professor of Mathematics in 2009, and in the last few years his physical condition has deteriorated. He can no longer drive his own wheelchair, and composes his speech through twitches of his cheek muscles, at the rate of about one word per minute. The last time I saw him was at the ADC theatre, in the bar in the interval; I don’t remember what the play was, but I went and stood close enough to him to see if I could hear that characteristic lilting voice expressing some sort of opinion. He didn’t say a word. I suppose, in the circumstances, you learn to be economical with your speech.
The Theory of Everything is not really about his ideas, more about his relationships (he has been married twice), and as much about his first wife (played by Felicity Jones) as about him. But his ideas are also of interest, I think I’m right in saying, if a little obscure in the main: so here, for the non-initiates, is a brief animated explanation.