Scientific publication: 'The Boundary Conditions of the Universe'

Made:
1981-1982 in Vatican City
author:
Stephen Hawking
Scientific Publication: 'The Boundary Conditions of the Universe' Scientific Publication: 'The Boundary Conditions of the Universe'

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Scientific Publication: 'The Boundary Conditions of the Universe'
Stephen Hawking Estate/Science Museum Group
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Scientific Publication: 'The Boundary Conditions of the Universe'
Stephen Hawking Estate/Science Museum Group
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Publication:‘The Boundary Conditions of the Universe.’ Offprint from: Astrophysical cosmology; Proceedings of the Study Week on Cosmology and Fundamental Physics, Vatican City State, September 28- October 2, 1981, pp.563-574. [Vatican City: Pontificia Academia Scientiarum, 1982]. Single-article booklet.

From early in his career, Hawking showed a daring approach and a flair for communication. His 1966 PhD thesis provided crucial support for the big-bang theory. Hawking ran the theory of the collapse that forms black holes in reverse, showing that the universe must explode into being from a single point in space and time.

His 1974 paper ‘Black Hole Explosions’ disproved the conventional notion that nothing could ever escape from a black hole. It boldly blended quantum theory, which describes the very small scales of the atomic world, with general relativity, the large-scale theory of gravity.

The 1981 paper on the boundary conditions of the universe is an example from his work in the 1980s called the 'no boundary proposal' of James Hartle and Stephen Hawking. This was an attempt at explaining how the Universe could arise out of nothingness, applying quantum mechanics' uncertainty principle at the beginning of time. Hawking's early results were presented at a conference attended by many of the world;s prominent cosmologists hosted by the Vatican's Pontifical Academy of Sciences, which is also the issuer of the proceedings that displayed here.

The publication 'Spectrum of Wormholes' highlights Hawking's influence on the scientific exploration of what has become one of Science Fiction's most popular themes: Wormholes. Astrophysically, wormholes were a necessity to take account of the Information Paradox. Where does information go after it has been swallowed by a black hole? Even if one waits until the black hole has evaporated due to Hawking Radiation, this radiation does not emit information, as it is what is called 'blackbody radiation'.

Wormholes in their narrow scientific sense would be mechanisms by which black holes connect to some other location in spacetime where the lost information reemerges.

Today, as back in the 1980s, wormholes are considered highly speculative by the majority of physicists and no observed astrophysical phenomena has been traced back to them.

Details

Category:
Stephen Hawking Office
Collection:
Stephen Hawking’s Office
Object Number:
2021-561/7
Materials:
ink, paper (fibre product) and steel (metal)
Measurements:
overall (Closed): 240 mm x 168 mm x 1 mm,
type:
article
taxonomy:
  • visual and verbal communication
credit:
Accepted in lieu of Inheritance Tax by H M Government from the Estate of Stephen Hawking and allocated to the Science Museum, 2021