Dying Stephen Hawking changed his mind about Big Bang theory

Steve Phelps
May 3, 2018

Hawking, who died at the age of 76, developed this cosmological theory for twenty years with his colleague Thomas Hertog, of the Institute of Theoretical Physics in Louvain (Belgium), and both presented it to the publication for review ten days before the first the death of the famed British astrophysicist. 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.

It is widely believed, however, that once inflation starts, there are regions where it never stops.

Quantum effects can simply keep this inflation going forever in some parts of the universe, making inflation eternal in the overall picture. One multiverse theory suggests that right after the Big Bang, repeated bursts of "cosmic inflation" occurred which seeded an endless number of pocket universes.

He told the Guardian: "I always had the impression that he [Hawking] never wanted to quit and, in a way, this was Hawking".

"The local laws of physics and chemistry can differ from one pocket universe to another, which together would form a multiverse. I personally felt this might be the conclusion of our journey, but I never told him".

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". "So it is not a fractal structure", said Hawking.

Many people have tried to tackle that question, but Hawking approached it from a point of view shaped by his long study of the intersection of quantum theory and gravity, he said.

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

This idea "resolved a difficulty with Einstein's theory that suggested that the universe began almost 14 billion years ago but said nothing about how it began", says the BBC.

"We predict that our universe, on the largest scales, is reasonably smooth and globally finite".

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

This means the multiverse theory will be able to be tested by a larger range of physicists in the future. He's looking for a smoking gun: most likely primordial gravitational waves-ripples in spacetime-generated at the exit from eternal inflation.

However, in his final paper, submitted to the Journal of High Energy Physics, Hawking and fellow physicist Thomas Hertog revised the theory, suggesting that the universe does have a boundary - which makes for a "simpler set of alternate universes", The Times reports.

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