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Stephen Hawking’s last paper predicts a smooth exit from eternal inflation

20 Mar 2018 Hamish Johnston
Illustration of the expansion of the universe
Just the one: illustration of the expansion of the universe

What was Stephen Hawking working on just before his death last week?

While I’m sure he had several irons in the fire, he had just put the finishing touches on a paper about inflation and the multiverse – which he co-authored with Thomas Hertog of the University of Leuven in Belgian.

A smooth exit from eternal inflation?” was uploaded to the arXiv preprint server in July 2017 and was updated on 4 March, just 10 days before Hawking’s death. According to reports in several media outlets, the paper has been submitted to a journal for peer review.

The paper presents preliminary calculations that combine quantum and classical physics. The research explores whether an “infinite fractal-like multiverse” was created by the cosmic inflation that occurred just after the Big Bang. Hawking and Hertog’s calculations seem to say no.

 

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