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

Province to fund social housing in Queen Charlotte

People who are homeless or at risk of homelessness will soon have… Continue reading

Study highlights Queen Charlotte housing needs

A new housing report highlights lack of social and seniors housing

Northwest family doctors win awards for B.C. launch of CHANGE Program

Northwest family doctors win awards for B.C. launch of CHANGE Program

Duu Guusd expands to include creek near Rennell Sound

More than three decades since the Haida Nation first resolved to protect… Continue reading

Masset Magic: Dancing and driving in circles

Whenever I see a pylon I have to fight the urge to… Continue reading

VIDEO: After the floods, comes the cleanup as Grand Forks rebuilds

Business owners in downtown wonder how long it will take for things to go back to normal

UPDATE: Woman dies in ocean accident near Tofino hours before daughter’s wedding

“We are so thankful to everyone who helped our mom.”

Olympian sues USA Swimming, saying it failed to protect her

Ariana Kukors Smith alleges her former coach Sean Hutchison began grooming her for sexual abuse at the age of 13

Defence minister thanks troops for B.C. flood relief work

Harjit Sajjan says not only was military response quick, support from locals has been ‘tremendous’

Couple survives being buried in mudslide on B.C. highway

The couple, from Saskatchewan, were en route to Nelson when a tree fell in their path

‘So grateful:’ Injured Bronco hockey player glad he’s alive, works on recovery

Ryan Straschnitzki was badly hurt in the accident: a spinal injury, broken ribs, a broken collar bone, and punctured lung

PHOTOS: Floodwaters rise and fall in Grand Forks

The flood-ravaged Kootenay-Boundary region begins to heal

Martin Mars waterbombers’ firefighting days are done

Wayne Coulson said his company still hopes to find a new home for the vintage aircraft

NHL playoffs weekly roundup

Vegas Golden Knights have done the impossible and have a chance at hoisting the Stanley Cup

Most Read