FILE - In this March 30, 2015, file photo, Professor Stephen Hawking arrives for the Interstellar Live show at the Royal Albert Hall in central London. Hawking’s final theory on the origin of the universe has been published in a journal. The University of Cambridge, where Hawking worked, said on Wednesday, May 2, 2018, the theory was submitted for publication before his death in March at age 76. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP, File)

Hawking’s last physics paper argues for a ‘simpler’ cosmos

Hawking’s final theory on the origin of the universe has been published in a journal.

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.

Well, simpler if you understand theoretical physics, anyway. It remains incomprehensible for the rest of us.

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.

The University of Cambridge, where Hawking worked, announced the publication on Wednesday.

Related: Stephen Hawking dies at 76

Related: Tributes from around the world pour in for Stephen Hawking

Here’s a very simplified version of what it says. First, some background.

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.

Hawking’s paper suggests that there may be a much smaller range of possibilities for universe types than previous estimates had suggested. So “the behaviour of our own, observable universe might not be a rare outlier, but perhaps (be) relatively typical,” Kaiser said in an email.

“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.”

Related: Editorial cartoon: Stephen Hawking gone

___

The Associated Press Health & Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Malcolm Ritter, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Revelstoke Secondary School enthralls the audience with Trap

With a twist ending that had audience members laughing, perhaps uncomfortably, the… Continue reading

Okanagan Military Tattoo returns

Performances July 28 and July 28

Caribou Rainforest book tour arrives in Revelstoke

The book is being released just when caribou have become extinct in the contiguous United States.

Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance accepting applications for art grants

Artists in all disciplines—as well as arts and culture organizations—are invited to… Continue reading

Soon-to-be-extinct caribou moved north of Revelstoke

The three caribou are currently being held in maternal pens on the westside of Lake Revelstoke

REPLAY: B.C’s best videos this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the replay-worth highlights from this week across the province

Patriots make 3rd straight Super Bowl, beat Chiefs 37-31 in OT

New England will meet L.A. Rams in NFL title game

Pettersson returns to lead Canucks to 3-2 win over Red Wings

Vancouver’s super rookie has 2 points in first game back after knee injury

Crash closes Coquihalla southbound lane south of Merritt

Accident occurred approximately 26 kilometres south of Merritt

Skaters stranded in Saint John, NB, amid storm on last day of championships

More than half of the flights out of the city’s airport were cancelled due to the weather

Call for tighter bail rules after Saudi sex-crime suspect vanishes

Mohammed Zuraibi Alzoabi was facing charges related to alleged sexual assault, criminal harassment, assault and forcible confinement of a woman

UBC Okanagan hosts gala evening of fun, art and entertainment

The annual event is celebrating its 17th anniversary

12 poisoned eagles found on Vancouver Island

Improper disposal of euthanized animal suspected

Most Read