Sci-tech

Stephen Hawking's final paper explores theory on multiverse and origin of universe

Stephen Hawking's final paper explores theory on multiverse and origin of universe

But Stephen Hawking's scientific partner Professor Hertog, theoretical physicist at the University of Leuven in Belgium, has now announced a "significant departure" from the theory, saying: "There is a single, over-arching question behind all this work by Hawking".

In order to carry out the research with Stephen Hawking on the multiverse, Hertog traveled to Cambridge - and towards the end, communication became very hard.

The "no boundary theory" implies that the Big Bang would have led to the creation of infinite universes, each exhibiting physical laws that differ from others.

But some have proposed that, on a grander global scale, inflation goes on for ever, giving rise to a "multiverse" - a number of different universes with their own laws of physics.

Traveling to Cambridge to work on the paper with Hawking prior to his death, Hertog says, "I always had the impression that he never wanted to quit and, in a way, this was Hawking".

While this paper is the most recent development from Stephen Hawking, it isn't the first time that the physicist had touched on the idea - serving as an update to a 1980s theory with more modern mathematical techniques used in theory.

"[The new theory] reduces the multiverse down to a more manageable set of universes which all look alike".

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The European Space Agency's Laser Interferometer Space Antenna, or LISA, "should be ideally suited to capture those gravitational waves from the big bang", Hertog said.

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 paper - titled "A smooth exit from eternal inflation?" - has now been published in the Journal of High Energy Physics.

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

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.

Hertog says that the work he's done with Hawking brings humanity one step closer to understanding the origin of the cosmos.

"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", Hertog said. Their assertions could be experimentally tested one day since the theory predicts that if the universe evolved as described, then telltale signs should be recorded in gravitational waves or in the cosmic microwave background, the radiation released by the Big Bang.

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