After his rousing lecture, in which he urged his audience to "look up at the stars and not down at your feet," the distinguished cosmologist received an unusual question from the audience: "What do you think is the cosmological effect of Zayn leaving One Direction and consequently breaking the hearts of millions of teenage girls across the world?"
The charismatic Hawking didn't disappoint with his answer.
"Finally, a question about something important," he quipped. "My advice to any heartbroken young girl is to pay close attention to the study of theoretical physics, because one day there may well be proof of multiple universes.
"It would not be beyond the realms of possibility that somewhere outside of our own universe lies another different universe," he continued. "And in that universe, Zayn is still in One Direction."
Lest his young inquirer not yet be sold on the study of dark matter and quantum gravity, Professor Hawking added a brilliant coda. "This girl may like to know that in another possible universe," he concluded, "she and Zayn are happily married."