World-renowned scientist Stephen Hawking is known for providing us with complex, theological insights on his favoured subjects of space, time and physics, but he received praise for his comments on a more emotional matter at a talk in London this week, when he offered this advice to those suffering from depression.
He made a poetic comparison between depression and a black hole: “No matter how dark they seem,” he said. “Neither are impossible to escape.” He urged those who felt they were in a dark place to take comfort in the fact that there can always be a way out of it.
“The message of this lecture is that black holes aren’t as black as they are painted. They are not the eternal prisons they were once thought,” he added.
“Things can get out of a black hole both on the outside and possibly to another universe. So if you feel you are in a black hole, don’t give up – there’s a way out.”
He gave the speech in front of a crowd of over 400 people as part of the Reith Lecture at the Royal Institute in London, and his emotive words were widely praised. Perhaps it’s the poignancy of the talk that struck so many; Hawking was undoubtedly speaking from his own personal experiences of dealing with motor neurone disease – he was diagnosed with the condition in 1963 at the age of 21, when he was given just two years to live. Having just turned 74, Professor Hawking defied all expectations and 53 years later, he is considered to be one of the most intelligent scientists in the world.
According to the Daily Mail, he said he learnt to appreciate what he had. “Although it was unfortunate to get motor neurone disease, I have been very fortunate in almost everything else,” he said. “I have been lucky to work in theoretical physics at a fascinating time and it’ s one of the few areas in which my disability was not a serious handicap.”
“It’s also important not to become angry, no matter how difficult life may seem because you can lose all hope if you can’t laugh at yourself and life in general.”
Hawking was in the limelight last year for a very non-scientific reason, as the film based on his life ‘The Theory of Everything,’ starring Eddie Redmayne, achieved critical acclaim and Oscar glory.