Are we living in the only universe? If you believe like many that we reside in a multiverse, then answer this question: do we live in the FIRST universe? If that’s too big of a query to wrap your brain around, here’s a little help from an esteemed mathematician, with a little more help from the beyond in the form of Stephen Hawking, who thinks the answer lies in black holes:
“What we claim we’re seeing is the final remnant after a black hole has evaporated away in the previous aeon.”
What University of Oxford mathematical physicist Sir Roger Penrose and his colleagues “claim we’re seeing” is radiation that appears to have passed from a previous universe (which he calls an “aeon”), which supports Penrose’s theory of “conformal cyclic cosmology” which proposes that the universe is not the product of a single Big Bang but instead is going through an ebb and flow of Big Bang expansions and dying universe compressions. This, of course, would contradict the prevailing theory of cosmic inflation, which hypothesizes that the universe is expanding infinitely.
Got it so far? Still skeptical? Let’s bring in the late great Stephen Hawking and his “Hawking points.”
“Though seemingly problematic for cosmic inflation, the existence of such anomalous points is an implication of conformal cyclic cosmology (CCC).”
In a paper published on the pre-peer review website arxiv.org, Penrose proposes that Hawking points – a singular spot of radiation emitted from black hole – are actually exit-entry points between dying-birthing universes and the radiation itself is a remnant from the previous aeon passed on to the current one. At this point, if you’re up on your Hawking points, you’re probably screaming, “But Hawking was never able to prove they exist!”
Not so fast, says Penrose. His study claims that one or more things-that-could-be-Hawking -points have been found by the BICEP2 (Background Imaging of Celectronic Cosmic Extragalactic Polarization) project, a muscular mapping of the cosmic microwave background (the electromagnetic radiation emitted by the Big Bang) which has identified 20 swirling patterns of polarizations (a great name for a band) called B-modes (a great name for the band’s backup singers) on the far edges of the map near the beginning of the universe we’re in right now.
Penrose and his colleagues believe these swirls are the smoking points proving the theory of conformal cyclic cosmology.
“Although of extremely low temperature at emission, in CCC this radiation is enormously concentrated by the conformal compression of the entire future of the black hole, resulting in a single point at the crossover into our current aeon.”
Should we break out the champagne (real and non-alcoholic) and invite our Hindu friends over to celebrate the proof of Vedic cosmology and the four Yugas? Unfortunately, Penrose’s study and simulations are based on the map released by the BICEP2 project, not the raw data which could contain contradicting points to the Hawking points. The map only goes back to about 380,000 years after the Big Bang, not to the bang itself, and other researchers say Penrose has not yet disproved the theories that the swirls or rings are light being bent by massive objects we can’t see yet.
Will a chain of banging-and-imploding universes that lasts forever be proven by the B-modes before the next aeon arrives? If science had a category for “most popular theory,” anything connected to Hawking would be a winner.