British physicist Stephen Hawking may have died in March, but his legacy is still unfolding.
The prominent theoretical physicist and cosmologist co-authored a research paper about the existence of parallel universes similar to our own, which the Journal of High-Energy Physics posthumously published on Friday.
According to the BBC, the study was submitted to the open-access journal shortly before Hawking’s death.
Thomas Hertog, a co-author of the study, told the BBC that he and Hawking were wrestling with the idea that the Big Bang actually resulted in the creation of multiple “pocket universes” that exist throughout space. It was unclear to them whether the laws of physics that apply in our universe would also apply in these alternate universes.
“In the old theory there were all sorts of universes: some were empty, others were full of matter, some expanded too fast, others were too short-lived. There was huge variation,” said Hertog, a physics professor at the Catholic University of Leuven (KU Leuven) in Belgium. “The mystery was why do we live in this special universe where everything is nicely balanced in order for complexity and life to emerge?”