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Stephen Hawking's final research paper has been published, and it's mind-bending

Posted May 2, 2018 10:53 a.m. EDT

— Stephen Hawking may be among the stars now, but he has managed to gift the world one more research paper, published this week in the Journal of High Energy Physics.

True to Hawking's oeuvre, the paper tackles the same questions as any other bubbly beach read: Do we live in a multiverse? Did the Big Bang create infinite universes? If there are infinite universes, does that mean that there are no laws that can govern their organization or creation? If there aren't infinite universes, and simply many, what laws govern how many and which ones?

If that sounds confusing, you should read the paper itself, co-authored by Thomas Hertog of the Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of Leuven in Belgium.

The basic gist of it is this: Lets assume The Big Bang created the universe, and continues to expand infinitely (called eternal inflation). This idea, championed by Hawking and Hertog, also implies that there are infinite universes. The problem is, if there are infinite universes there is no way to position our own selves in our universe and no governing laws of physics across all universes that can be used to know them.

In this new paper, Hawking and Herzog reexamined the theoretical characteristics of the Big Bang using new mathematical applications. They conclude that, in their new model, all universes must share some law of physics. This gives future scientists and physicists a more structured set of information to identify other universes.

The final version of the paper was submitted just 10 days before Hawking died in March.