Science

Stephen Hawking's Big Bang: Final Theory Published Posthumously

Stephen Hawking's Big Bang: Final Theory Published Posthumously

As a physicist he will live long in the memory of many, but his last theory on the multiverse could have implications for millennia to come.

Eddie Redmayne, who won an Oscar for his portrayal of Professor Hawking in the 2014 biopic The Theory of Everything, led the tributes at his funeral in Cambridge. The pair's theory is sophisticated (and quite speculative) but not all that hard to explain.

There may be an infinite number of these pocket universes. This eternal inflation produces a "multiverse", a collection of pocket universes of which our own universe is just one.

In the new theory, instead of space being filled with countless universes where entirely different laws of physics apply, these alternate universes may not actually vary that much from one another.

Speaking of his collaboration with Hawking, Hertog admitted that he thought it would be their last work together: "I always had the impression that he never wanted to quit and, in a way, this was Hawking". By reducing the multiverse down to a more manageable set of universes which all resemble each other, scientists now have a better chance of arriving at a fully predictive framework of cosmology.

"The problem with the usual account of eternal inflation is that it assumes an existing background universe that evolves according to Einstein's theory of general relativity and treats the quantum effects as small fluctuations around this", Hertog said in a statement.

"However, the dynamics of eternal inflation wipes out the separation between classical and quantum physics", he continued.

Monsoon threatens tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees, says UN
Myanmar security forces were accused of rape, murder, torture and setting Rohingya homes on fire. Thousands of refugees gathered at the Kutupalong camp to welcome the visiting delegation.

The pre-print version of the paper - titled "A Smooth Exit From Eternal Inflation?" - has been circulating for months. "Now we're saying that there is a boundary in our past", Hertog said. String theory describes reality through the interactions of one-dimensional objects known as cosmic strings.

The paper presents a variation of the holographic principle to deal with the time dimension of eternal inflation, reducing it to a timeless state defined on a spatial surface at the beginning of time.

Some theorists say universes could be spawning off each other eternally, creating a virtually infinite array of fractal possibilities.

"The most promising observable [phenomena], when it comes to our universe, are gravitational waves ... that are probably generated at the big bang, basically", he said in a video explaining the paper.

Prof Hawking said before his death: "We are not down to a single, unique universe, but our findings imply a significant reduction of the multiverse, to a much smaller range of possible universes".

Stephen Hawking died this March in Cambridge at the age of 76, having suffered from a rare form of motor neuron disease since 1964.


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