THE BLOG

The Theory of Almost Everything: A Black Hole Paradox, ALS and Sex

05/12/2014 13:15 GMT | Updated 03/02/2015 10:59 GMT

The Theory of Everything, the movie starring Eddie Redmayne as scientist and author Stephen Hawking, and Felicity Jones as his first wife Jane, was inspired by the Jane Wilde Hawking's memoir Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen which examines her relationship with her ex-husband, his diagnosis of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), and his success in physics.

Although the film won't be released in the United Kingdom until January 1, 2015, the trailer promoting the movie is food for thought. My mind was spinning. "How could Stephen Hawking, whose physical abilities were in rapid decline by the mid-1960s, manage to have intercourse with his wife Jane to create their three children, Robert (born in 1967) Lucy (born in 1970) and Timothy (born 1979)? And by the time he left Jane to marry his second wife Elaine Mason in 1995, was the passionate relationship he claimed to have had, really as ardent as he boasts?"

While Stephen Hawking personifies a will to live that can only be explained by the power of his mind over matter, the facts just don't add up. Sexuality is an issue for most people with ALS and their partners. It directly effects voluntary nerves and muscles and diminish sexual sensation. ALS can weaken respirator function making breathing more difficult and making sexual activity a strain. This is not the only problem. According to the Sexual Health Network, having negative feelings about bodily changes brought on by ALS also can diminish sexual function and a loss of intimacy.

Hawking was diagnosed with ALS when he was just 21. At the time, doctors gave him a life expectancy of two years. After his diagnosis, Hawking fell into a depression; though his doctors advised that he continue with his studies, he felt there was little point. At the same time, however, his relationship with Jane Wilde, whom he had met shortly before his diagnosis, continued to develop and they got married in 1964. Hawking later said that the engagement "gave him something to live for."

Is there a woman alive who wouldn't question with total amazement, "What was this "rocket scientist" thinking and exactly which part of his brain was doing the thinking when he decided to leave his devoted wife Jane for the nurse? An epic classic, except for the fact that Stephen Hawking couldn't walk, dress himself, eat , bathe, go to the bathroom or speak without a customized speech synthesizer. Was it divine justice that he divorced his second wife surrounding allegations of abuse?

This brings me back to a different Black Hole paradox. I know we all worry from time to time about the state of our marriages and relationships. But you need to have the world's best imagination to come up with this script: devoted woman encourages and supports genius paralyzed husband for 30 years to achieve beyond his potential, only to have an "affair" with his nurse, leave his wife, and marry that woman?. Perhaps when the darkest secrets of the cosmos are revealed, the answer to this and other questions that seem impossible to answer will become clearer. In the meantime, only Jane and Elaine know the truth and it seems they aren't quite ready to reveal their own relative views of space and time with Stephen Hawking.