According to media reports, a final paper from Stephen Hawking suggests that our universe is just one among many. The multiverse.
The famed cosmologist, who died last week at the age of 76, is the lead author of a study called “A Smooth Exit from Eternal Inflation?” On March 4 — just 10 days before Hawking’s death — his co-author, Thomas Hertog, a professor of theoretical physics at KU Leuven University in Belgium, submitted a revised version of the manuscript for further review, according to British newspaper The Sunday Times.
So, as the story goes, our universe began with the Big Bang. The cosmos swelled from subatomic to golf ball-sized almost instantaneously—possibly creating various pocket worlds, i.e. the multiverse. This is a period of rapid expansion, the inflation.
Many physicists believe that this dramatic ballooning happened repeatedly spawning multiple universes — perhaps an infinite number of them.
“A consequence of inflation is that there should be a multitude of universes, but we have never been able to measure this,” Carlos Frenk, a professor of cosmology at Durham University in England who’s not involved in the new study, told The Sunday Times.
According to astrophysicist Katie Mack, the simplified model described in Hawking’s latest paper hints at a “small number of universes that are pretty similar”.
Prof. Hawking believed the universe has no outer limits. Together with his colleague, scientist Jim Hartle, they previously proposed the so-called “no-boundary condition”. That is, “the boundary condition of the universe is that it has no boundary.”
This leads to the idea that when the cosmos exploded into existence, so did an infinite number of others.
However, the universe is a really strange place and we have a lot to learn.
You can read the manuscript for free at the online preprint site arXiv.org.
Thumbnail image credit: Muir Vidler (13 Photo)/Redux