Science

Hawking's new research paper argues for a 'simpler' cosmos

Physicist Stephen Hawking delivered his last thoughts about the nature of the cosmos in the new paper

Physicist Stephen Hawking delivered his last thoughts about the nature of the cosmos in the new paper   | Photo Credit: REUTERS

The paper was submitted to the journal 10 days before Hawking died

Weeks after his death, physicist Stephen Hawking has delivered his last thoughts about the nature of the cosmos, and he says it may be simpler than often believed.

A paper that outlines his view, written with Thomas Hertog of the University of Leuven in Belgium before Hawking’s death in March, has been published by the Journal of High Energy Physics. Hertog had announced the new theory last year at a conference celebrating Hawking’s 75th birthday.

Light on ‘multiverse’

The University of Cambridge, where Hawking worked, announced the publication on April 2. Scientists believe our universe sprang into existence with the Big Bang, followed by an unimaginably rapid expansion known as inflation. Within our observable universe, inflation ended long ago. But some ideas of inflation say it never stops, persisting in other regions of the cosmos forever. This eternal inflation produces a “multiverse,” a collection of pocket universes of which our own universe is just one. There may be an infinite number of these pocket universes.

If they’re all very different, then how typical is the universe we live in, where scientists make their observations? That’s a key question for understanding the fundamental laws of nature, and finding a way to estimate what types of universes are probable is a big challenge, said physics professor David Kaiser of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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. “Naturally,” Kaiser said, “this is all rather speculative.” Avi Loeb of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics called it “a stimulating, but not revolutionary paper.”

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Printable version | Jul 14, 2020 12:17:06 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/science/hawkings-new-research-paper-argues-for-a-simpler-cosmos/article23758812.ece

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