May 26, 2018

Hawkings final research paper supports existence of multiverse

03 May 2018, 02:12 | Francis Delgado

Professor Stephen Hawking's final theory: The universe is a hologram

Stephen Hawking's final theory sheds light on the multiverse

Several weeks after the death of Stephen Hawking, the so-called Hawking's "Final Theory", his most recent piece of scientific research about the character of our universe and its position in the broader multiverse, has been published earlier this day in the Journal of High-Energy Physics.

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.

Some, according to the theory, would be very like our own universe, while others would be subtly different.

But if the Big Bang were to birth an infinite number of possible universes, all with different laws of physics, a lot of them would be hostile to the stable existence of the matter that makes up stars, planets and human beings - and of physics itself as we know it.

Now it's up to his co-author, Belgian physicist Thomas Hertog, to keep an eye out for observational evidence for or against Hawking's "Final Theory".

This model places our visible universe as the exception rather than the rule, with most of the multiverse continuing to experience "cosmic inflation".

Hawking and Hertog say the possibilities aren't as infinite as those theorists would claim, because eternal inflation is bounded by a smooth, featureless, timeless state of existence.

Prof Hawking was always troubled by this idea, which at a fundamental level can not be reconciled with Einstein's theory of General Relativity.

The pair proposed that prior to the Big Bang, there was space but no time.

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

But Prof Hawking claimed the idea could not be reconciled with Einstein's theory of General Relativity.

The new paper is based on work done by Hawking and USA physicist James Hartle in the 1980s.

"When we trace the evolution of our universe backwards in time, at some point we arrive at the threshold of eternal inflation, where our familiar notion of time ceases to have any meaning", said Hertog.

"Stephen himself said that this work was the area he was most proud of", Malcolm Perry, a colleague of Hawking's, tells the Guardian.

"We are not reduced to a single Universe, but our findings imply a considerable reduction of the "multiverse", to a much smaller range of possible universes", the professor said before his death.

"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.

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

S.W. Hawking and Thomas Hertog.

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