It may come as a surprise to many of you – it sure did to me – to learn that Stephen Hawking never won the Nobel Prize.
Hawking, who died just last week, was somewhat of a figurehead when it came to science, and especially space. Stephen Hawking and black holes will forever be recognised side by side – somewhere in the cosmos.
His work on Hawking radiation, and thus black holes, as well as his monumental A Brief History of Time have cemented Professor Hawking’s legacy in world history. However, his final work may just be his most important yet, according to IFL Science.
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A Smooth Exit from Eternal Inflation; his last scientific paper completed just over a week before he died, seeks to explain how humans may detect parallel universes.
Hawking’s idea, in its simplest form, delves into the idea that we live not in a universe but a multiverse made up of countless other universes. He adds that we may be able to find other universes through tracing the ‘background radiation of the universe’ – otherwise known as their Big Bangs.
Ultimately, Hawking believed it may be possible to trace gravitational waves emitted from the Big Bang which would lead us to discover parallel universes.
The paper, which you can read here, was co-written by Thomas Hertog from the University of Leuven in Belgium, and is currently being reviewed before being published.
In an email to IFL Science, Hertog explained:
This is a theory of the Big Bang. It is an improved version of Hawking’s original ‘no-boundary’ model of the Big Bang, which he and James Hartle put forward back in 1983.
Gradually we realised the model described not one but infinitely many universes. Cosmologists call this a multiverse – an ensemble of universes which exist in parallel.
Hawking was not satisfied with this state of affairs. ‘Let’s try to tame the multiverse’, he told me a year ago. So we set out to develop a method to transform the idea of a multiverse into a coherent testable scientific framework.
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If Hawking’s theory turns out to be true, and we can trace other Big Bangs to other universes in the multiverse – then that is without doubt more than enough to grant him a Nobel Prize however it sadly cannot be awarded posthumously.
In my opinion, Hawking should have been awarded the Nobel prize long ago.
Stephen was an adventurer and science was his greatest adventure of all. This paper is just one example of this.
Hawking also predicted the end of the world shortly before he passed.
Rest in peace Stephen Hawking. What a legacy this man has left behind!