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

UPDATE: Discontent City campers don’t plan on leaving

City of Nanaimo issues trespass notice at downtown homeless camp

UPDATED: Nanaimo city manager gone

Tracy Samra is no longer with the City of Nanaimo

No fare discounts for Island residents, says B.C. Ferries CEO

Mark Collins spoke about B.C. Ferries’ vision and mission last week in Qualicum

Ferry sailing cancelled after ship’s second officer falls ill

Coastal Inspiration’s 8:15 p.m. sailing to Nanaimo on Tuesday cancelled, passengers to be compensated

Trans Mountain pipeline: How we got here

A look at the Kinder Morgan expansion, decades in the making

City showcases power of public works to Nanaimo students

City of Nanaimo holds second Public Works Day

VIDEO: Regional district and B.C. Transit show off NextRide bus technology

New technology for Nanaimo bus riders will allow for real-time tracking

Suspected scammer attempts to use Black Press newspaper to dupe woman

Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre offers tips after Langley resident received suspicious call

Vote points to abortion being legalized in Ireland

Voters asked whether to keep or repeal Eighth Amendment to Roman Catholic Ireland’s Constitution

COLUMN: Women’s breasts really aren’t that big a deal

A follow on some Princeton, B.C., students gained considerable exposure when they dropped their bras

Canadian soccer officials talk up World Cup bid at Champions League final

Current bid calls for 2026 World Cup games to be staged in the U.S., Canada and Mexico

B.C.’s devastating 2017 wildfire season revisited in new book

British Columbia Burning written by CBC journalist Bethany Lindsay

Most Read