One Direction fans still devastated about Zayn Malik's exit from the band may find solace from an unlikely source. Professor Stephen Hawking suggested during a conference on Saturday that the 22-year-old could still be in the band in an alternative universe.
The 73-year-old appeared in holographic form at the Sydney Opera House, streamed in from Cambridge University. Asked about the cosmological effect of Zayn leaving One Direction and consequently breaking the hearts of teenage girls around the world, the physicist joked: "Finally, a question about something important."
"My advice to any heartbroken young girl is to play close attention to the study of theoretical physics. Because one day there may well be proof of multiple universes," he continued. "It would not be beyond the realms of possibility that somewhere outside of our own universe lies another different universe. And in that universe, Zayn is still in One Direction."
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Professor Stephen Hawking said Zayn could still be in One Direction
Showing off his sense of humour and knowledge of the Directioners' devotion to the band, he added: "This girl may like to know that in another possible universe, she and Zayn are happily married."
His comments drove many One Direction fans to tweet their requests to move to the universe he was talking about.
However for now it appears that Zayn has no plans to re-join the chart-topping band following his departure in March. The Bradford-born singer recently broke his Twitter silence to thank the people who have supported him since he made the tough decision to leave the group after five years.
"Wanna say thanks to everyone that's been there for me over the last few weeks, love you all.. you know who you are x," he wrote.
Zayn Malik left One Direction in March
The tweets came just days after Zayn made his first public appearance since leaving the band, attending the Asian Awards in London alongside his mum Trisha.
Sporting newly-shorn hair, a new nose stud and a crisp navy suit and tie, the heart-throb looked thrilled to be at the event and collect an award for his contribution to music.
Zayn has attempted to keep a relatively low profile following his shock departure, and has been enjoying spending time with his fiancé – Little Mix singer Perrie Edwards. The couple have been spotted house hunting together in recent weeks and jetted away for a much-needed holiday along with Zayn's mum and sisters.
Fans of the 22-year-old may not have to wait too long for his return to the spotlight; he has been working on solo music along with producer Naughty Boy, who tweeted – then deleted – a demo of a track they had created together.