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

Construction of LNG Canada plant still on hold

Construction will only begin following a positive final investment decision

VIDEO: Watch ex-Kitimat video director Stephano Barberis’ new reel, featuring his own new music

Breathe of My Leaves music project debuts ‘Chimera’ album of electronic sounds

Sulphur dioxide pollution over Kitimat could be eliminated after 2024

New process will eliminate SO2 as a byproduct

Kitimat, Terrace home sales up from 2017

Optimism surrounding a potentially positive LNG decision one of the factors

B.C. Green Party pushes for wild salmon commissioner

The role would serve as a unifying force in the provincial government

VIDEO: Canadian Forces help flood-ravaged Grand Forks residents heal

Sgt. Bradley Lowes says the military is used to dealing with traumatic times

Chilliwack Chiefs make history with first RBC Cup win

In front of a huge and noisy crowd, the Chiefs claimed their first-ever national junior A title.

UPDATED: More than half of flood evacuees in Kootenay-Boundary allowed to return home

Officials hope to have all 3,000 people back in their homes by Monday night

B.C. Lions bring back 6-time all-star offensive lineman Jovan Olafioye

He was acquired by the Montreal Alouettes last year.

Whitecaps rally for 2-2 draw with FC Dallas

Vancouver climbed out of a two-nil hole to tie FC Dallas 2-2

B.C. VIEWS: Making sense of climate policy

Flood and fire predictions have poor track record so far

Chilliwack Chiefs moving on to RBC Cup final after thrilling win over Ottawa

Kaden Pickering scored the winning goal in the 3rd period as Chilliwack won their semi-final 3-2.

VIDEO: As floodwaters recede, crews assess the damage to Grand Forks’ downtown

More than four dozen firefighters and building inspectors came out to help

Wellington Dukes pull off epic upset of Wenatchee at RBC Cup

The Dukes are off to the championship game after downing the Wild 2-1 Saturday at Prospera Centre.

Most Read