Published: Fri, May 04, 2018
Worldwide | By Stella Potter

Universe Is Finite? Stephen Hawking's Final Theory Published

Universe Is Finite? Stephen Hawking's Final Theory Published

The late Stephen Hawking's last paper, published Wednesday in the Journal of High Energy Physics, attempts to reign in the multiverse theory, a theory the physicist considered unwieldy and unprovable.

But Hawking wasn't having any of it, as it doesn't work with Einstein's theory of General Relativity - admitting in an interview previous year that he had "never been a fan of" the multiverse. But the scientists' theory known as "eternal inflation" argues that some regions of the universe still have a rapid inflation.

"Now we're saying that there is a boundary in our past", says Hertog in a press statement. Eternal inflation is the theory that even though the universe isn't still growing at the same rate it did at the beginning of time, growth still occurs, starting from that boundary, and will continue infinitely.

"The local laws of physics and chemistry can differ from one pocket universe to another, which together would form a multiverse", Hawking said.

The work, which the two completed weeks before Hawking died, challenges the idea that the multiple universes that have formed over the past 13.8 billion years since the big bang are vastly different.

For Stephen Hawking, it seemed like altering humanity's view on life, the universe, and everything was just something to do on a Friday night: whether it was quantum theory or black holes or looking toward the extinction of humanity, the man seemed to have an endless stream of mind-blowing new ideas. The part of the universe that we can observe is just a hospitable pocket where inflation has ended. "I personally felt this might be the conclusion of our journey, but I never told him".

Stephen Hawking died on 14 March, at age 76, at his home in Cambridge.

In this new paper, Hawking and Herzog reexamined the theoretical characteristics of the Big Bang using new mathematical applications. It predicts a much more limited multiverse where other universes aren't so different from ours.

"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. "It reduces the multiverse down to a more manageable set of universes which all look alike".

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

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. But they might be heard by the planned European space-based gravitational wave observatory, LISA, or seen in future experiments measuring the cosmic microwave background. The kind of laws that emerge depends very much on the physical conditions at the Big Bang.

Hawking and Hertog's paper relies on string theory, a branch of physics that tries to reunite quantum physics with gravity and Einstein's theory of relativity.

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