17.7 C
Thursday, September 28, 2023
HomeWorldWhen time evaporates... Stephen Hawking's last assistant explains the latest theory reached...

When time evaporates… Stephen Hawking’s last assistant explains the latest theory reached by the genius of physics


In his recently published book, the Belgian physicist Thomas Hertog talks about his companion, the internationally known British physicist Stephen Hawking, who died in 2018, and about their latest theory about the emergence of the universe, time and the laws of physics.

When young Belgian researcher Thomas Hertog first entered the office of British physicist Stephen Hawking 25 years ago, they immediately bonded, and their meeting marked the beginning of a long collaboration on the origins of the universe.

This encounter took place in 1998 at the University of Cambridge, when Stephen Hawking, who was becoming world-famous, summoned Thomas Hertog to become one of his PhD students.

“A harmony arose between us,” says Hertog, who is now a professor at the Universit√© Catholique de Louvain. This harmony was never interrupted after that, even though the eminent cosmologist who suffered from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) lost the ability to speak.

The two worked closely together for 20 years and developed a new vision that changed the way science looks at the universe, and Hawking’s theory in this field was his last before his death in 2018 at the age of 76.

Thomas Hertog addresses this theory in its entirety for the first time in his book The Origin of Time, which was published in the spring of 2023 in the UK and France.

In an interview with Agence France-Presse, the author talks about his collaboration with his mentor and friend. He tells how Hawking ultimately felt his book A Brief History of Time, which has sold more than ten million copies, was written on the basis of a “false point of view”.

“The universe follows design.”

Soon, Hawking raised the issue that was preoccupying him with Hertog, telling him through the speech device he was using to speak in a robot-like voice, “It seems that the universe we are observing follows some design.” “The laws of physics are perfect for making the universe apparently habitable,” Hertog explains.

The gamut of favorable conditions for life extends from the delicate equilibrium that allows atoms to form the molecules needed for chemistry, to the expansion of the universe itself allowing for the emergence of vast structures, such as galaxies.

And the scientist adds, “Since its violent birth, the universe appeared in the form of an amazingly adapted structure for the growth of life, even if this did not happen until after billions of years.”

Hertog, 47, explains that the “familiar” answer to this puzzle is the multiverse, an idea that has become popular in cinema recently. This theory seeks to explain the nature of the universe by comparing it to a number of other “lifeless” and “uninteresting” universes.

But Hawking recognized that the multiverse question leads to “a great morass of paradoxes”. Hertog notes that the multiverse and even A Brief History of Time were “attempts to describe the origin and evolution of the universe from what Steffen calls the ‘divine perspective'”.

For 15 years, the two scientists have resorted to the strangeness of quantum theory to propose a new theory, from a new point of view.

“I thought it was over.”

In 2008, Hawking lost the ability to use a speech device, and his isolation worsened. “I thought it was over,” says Hertog. But the two men created a non-verbal communication that was “somewhat magical” and they were able to continue working together.

Hertog was standing in front of the physicist and asking him questions while looking into his eyes. Hawking had “a very wide range of facial expressions, ranging from strongly disapproved to very excited”. The connection between the two men was so close that it was “indistinguishable” between ideas emanating from Hertog or Hawking.

Their theory centered on what happened in the first moments after the Big Bang. Instead of saying that the explosion resulted from a set of rules that existed, they considered that the laws of physics themselves evolved in conjunction with the universe.

Going back in time, Hertog explains, shows that “the laws of physics are getting simpler and starting to disappear.” “Eventually, even the time dimension evaporates,” he adds.

They consider that the laws of physics, as well as time, developed in a manner similar to biological evolution, bearing in mind that the title of Hertog’s book is inspired by the title of Charles Darwin’s book “The Origin of Species.”

Hertog describes “biology and physics” as “two levels of a great process of evolution”. However, this theory is difficult to prove because the early years of the universe remain “hidden in the haze of the Big Bang”.

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

Latest stories