Stephen Hawking's Final Theory Is That The Universe Is A Hologram
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During his time on this planet, theoretical physicist, cosmologist and author Stephen Hawking gave us insight to some of the biggest, most mind-boggling areas of science - and beyond.
But it seems that his input is still continuing to grace us even after his death, thanks to the recent publication of a new paper in the Journal of High Energy Physics.
For his last hurrah, which comes from beyond the grave, Hawking has challenged previous theories of cosmic inflation and the multiverse - something that he has apparently always felt sceptical of.
The general belief among cosmologists is that, during the fraction of a second after the Big Bang, the universe expanded extremely quickly before settling at its current state, which includes stars and galaxies. This theory is known simply as inflation - or cosmic inflation.
Some scientists have proposed that inflation actually goes on forever, creating a 'multiverse' in which there's a patchwork of different universes, each with their own laws of physics.
But Hawking wasn't having any of it, as it doesn't work with Einstein's theory of General Relativity - admitting in an interview last year that he had 'never been a fan of' the multiverse.
Stay with us.
"The usual theory of eternal inflation predicts that globally our universe is like an infinite fractal, with a mosaic of different pocket universes, separated by an inflating ocean," Hawking said last autumn, according to the University of Cambridge.
"The local laws of physics and chemistry can differ from one pocket universe to another, which together would form a multiverse. But I have never been a fan of the multiverse. If the scale of different universes in the multiverse is large or infinite, the theory can't be tested."
In his new theory, which he worked on with Belgian colleague Professor Thomas Hertog, Hawking has managed to overcome the problem of combining the premises of General Relativity and ongoing inflation, and that, friends, is through a variation of the holography theory.
Hawking and Hertog reckon that the universe is actually vast and complex, just like a hologram - and that 3D reality is an illusion, as our 'solid' world and the dimension of time are projected from information sorted on a flat 2D surface.
Yeah, we're feeling a bit lost now, too.
Hertog, who is from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, explained that it stems from string theory, a branch of physics.
He said: "It's a very precise mathematical notion of holography that has come out of string theory in the last few years, which is not fully understood but is mind-boggling and changes the scene completely."
Applied to inflation, the newly published theory suggests that time and 'the beginning' of the universe arose holographically from an unknowable state outside the Big Bang.
He said: "The key point is that we're not projecting out a spatial dimension. We are projecting out the dimension of time from 'before' the Big Bang.
"It's a theory that envisages a beginning to the universe where time is not present but our notion of time crystallises.
"And it's saying that time is fundamentally coming out of some other state for which we have no words.
"Some very abstract timeless state - that's the best we can do."
Hawking passed away on 14 March, leaving behind one of the most influential legacies in science - a legacy that, judging from this little nugget, is also a gift that just keeps on giving.