Stephen Hawking

Photo via lwpkommunikacio/Flickr (CC-BY)

Mind = blown.

Even one of humanity's greatest minds struggles to contemplate the rise of Donald Trump

Stephen Hawking, an esteemed theoretical physicist and cosmologist at the University of Cambridge, told ITV's “Good Morning Britain” that he is incapable of fathoming the popularity of Trump, who last week passed the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. 

Asked whether he could explain Trump's popularity, Hawking kept it simple.

“I can't,” he said. 

Hawking added that Trump “is a demagogue who seems to appeal to the lowest common denominator.”

Of course, few political observers predicted Trump's victory in the Republican presidential race, and many still doubt his chances in the general election, despite polls showing him virtually tied with likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Beyond Trump, Hawking used the interview to encourage voters in the United Kingdom to opt to keep the country in the European Union in a referendum on June 23. 

“Gone are the days we could stand on our own against the world,” Hawking said. “We need to be part of a larger group of nations, both for our security and our trade.”

Hawking, who is now 74, was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease at age 21, and the disease has gradually paralyzed him. He famously speaks through a computer system controlled through sensors in his cheek. 

Hawking's condition raises awkward questions for Trump, given the candidate's history of responding to criticism with name-calling and otherwise insensitive reactions.

The Trump campaign did not respond to our request for comment.

In November 2015, Trump was accused of mocking New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski, who has arthrogryposis, a condition that limits his muscle functionality. Trump's on-stage reaction came in response to a Kovaleski article that refuted the candidate's claim that “thousands” of Muslims in New Jersey cheered the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center.

Trump later said he was not mocking Kovaleski, who regularly covered Trump while at the New York Daily News, and added that he did not know the reporter at all.

“Despite having one of the all-time great memories, I certainly do not remember him,” Trump said. “What I do know is that after 14 years and no retraction, this reporter tried to pull away from the tailgate party paragraph he wrote many years ago for the Washington Post.”

H/T CBS News

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