On the origin of time – with Thomas Hertog

From The Royal Institution.

Discover Stephen Hawking’s final theories on the origin of time and the universe, which he and Thomas Hertog worked on together for 20 years.

Watch the Q&A with Thomas here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGIw2Dup3sg
Buy Thomas’s book here: https://geni.us/K2Avz

Perhaps the biggest question Stephen Hawking tried to answer in his life was how our universe could have created conditions so perfectly hospitable to life. Pondering this mystery led Hawking to study the big bang origin, but his early work ran into a crisis when the maths predicted many big bangs producing a multiverse – countless different universes, most of which would be far too bizarre to harbour life.

Holed up in the theoretical physics department at Cambridge, Stephen Hawking and his friend and collaborator Thomas Hertog worked shoulder to shoulder for twenty years on a quantum theory of the big bang that could account for the universe’s life-friendly character.

As their discovery journey took them deeper into the big bang, they were startled to find a deeper level of evolution in which physical laws transform and simplify until particles, forces, and even time itself fades away.

Once upon a time, perhaps, there was no time. This led them to a revolutionary idea: the laws of physics are not set in stone but are born and co-evolve as the universe they govern takes shape.

Find out how Thomas Hertog and Stephen Hawking published this final theory together, proposing their radical new Darwinian perspective on the origins of our universe. In doing so, Thomas offers a striking new vision that ties together more deeply than ever, the nature of the universe’s birth with our existence. This new theory profoundly transforms the way we think about our place in the order of the cosmos and may ultimately prove Stephen Hawking’s biggest legacy.

This talk was recorded at the Ri on 28 March 2023.

Thomas Hertog is an internationally renowned cosmologist. He received his doctorate from the University of Cambridge and joined the University of California at Santa Barbara in 2002. Currently he is professor at the Institute for Theoretical Physics of the University of Leuven and member of the International Solvay Institutes in Brussels.

Thomas has been a key collaborator of the late Stephen Hawking since 1998. Together they developed a new theory of the big bang origin of the universe. He lives with his wife and their four children in Bousval, Belgium.

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