The latest scientific theory on the origin of the Universe, developed by British physicist Stephen Hawking before his death on March 14, was published today in the Journal of High Energy Physics in the United Kingdom.
Hawking, who died at the age of 76, developed this cosmological theory for twenty years with his colleague Thomas Hertog, of the Institute of Theoretical Physics in Louvain (Belgium), and both presented it to the publication for review ten days before the first the death of the famed British astrophysicist .
According to Hawking, humans are the product of quantum fluctuations in the Universe, and, although very weak and insignificant in the scale of the cosmos, in a way we are the lords of energy.
The new Hawking-Hertog theory states that, from the Big Bang (the moment of formation of the cosmos), the Universe was formed as a vast and complex hologram, so that other universes very similar to ours can exist. The two scientists also offer mathematical guidelines for astronomers to seek evidence about the existence of these possible parallel universes.
The theory published today qualifies an earlier hypothesis, fostered by Hawking’s own studies, which said that, starting with the Big Bang, the Universe expanded from a tiny point in a process known as inflation, creating infinite universes or “mutiverses” that could be very different from ours.
This formulation, derived from Hawking’s research with his American colleague James Hartle in the 1980s, posed a massive problem, if there are infinite universes with infinite variations in their physical laws, there is no way to predict which Universe we are in.
The Hawking-Hertog theory proposes that all existing universes share the same laws of physics, which implies that what is learned about this Universe can be applied to others. Hawking himself said in an interview in 2017 that he had never been a “fan” of the multiverse idea.
“We are not reduced to a single Universe, but our findings imply a considerable reduction of the ‘multiverse’, to a much smaller range of possible universes,” the professor said before his death.
Hertog told the BBC that neither he nor his colleague were happy with the idea of an infinity of unpredictable universes. “It suggests that the ‘multiverse’ arose arbitrarily and that there is not much more to say,” which did not satisfy the scientists, he said.
The scientists’ research is based on new mathematical techniques developed to investigate a branch of physics known as string theory, the idea that material particles, seemingly punctual, are actually vibrational states of an extended object more basic called a string.
Hawking died on March 14 in Cambridge (England), having suffered since 1964 from a neurodegenerative disease that left him immobile and forced him to communicate through a voice synthesizer.
In addition to his research on the expansion of the Universe and black holes, the astrophysicist gained fame for his popular science books, including A Brief History of Time.