At Stephen Hawking's 21st birthday party he meets a new friend, Jane Hawking. There is a strong attraction between the two and Jane is intrigued by Stephen's talk of stars and the universe, but realises that there is something very wrong with Stephen when he suddenly finds that he is unable to stand up. A stay in hospital results in a horrifying diagnosis. Stephen is suffering from motor neurone disease and doctors don't expect him to survive for more than two years. Stephen returns to Cambridge where the new term has started without him. But he cannot hide from the reality of his condition through work because he can't find a subject for his PhD. While his colleagues throw themselves into academic and college life, Stephen's life seems to have been put on hold. He rejects the help of his supervisor Dennis W. Sciama and sinks into a depression. It is only Stephen's occasional meetings with Jane and her faith in him that seem to keep him afloat. The prevailing theory in cosmology at the time is Steady State theory, which argues that the universe had no beginning – it has always existed, and always will – and Steady State is dominated by Professor Fred Hoyle, a plain-speaking Yorkshireman, and one of the first science TV pundits.