Unleashing Curiosity, Igniting Discovery - The Science Fusion

Stephen Hawking’s Lasting Legacy: Reversing Time and Causality


Thomas Hertog (left) collaborated with Stephen Hawking for many years

Courtesy of Thomas Hertog

It was widely known among students at the University of Cambridge that the top-scoring individual in the final phase of the mathematical tripos exams would be summoned for a meeting with Stephen Hawking. I had recently received my results and achieved the highest marks. As expected, I was invited to discuss my academic accomplishments with him.

I made my way to his office, located deep within the maze-like corridors of the department of applied mathematics and theoretical physics. The building itself was an aging Victorian structure situated along the banks of the river Cam. Stephen’s office was adjacent to the main common room, and despite the constant noise, he preferred to leave his door slightly ajar. I knocked, paused for a moment, and then gently pushed the door open.

Stepping into that room, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. I knew, of course, that Stephen had become renowned for his groundbreaking research on black holes, and had even faced controversy for his unconventional ideas on their explosive nature. However, on this occasion, his thoughts were fixated on a different inquiry: why does the universe possess the perfect conditions for life to emerge?

This question would initiate a lengthy quest that Stephen and I would embark on together. For the next twenty years, until his passing, we collaborated closely on revolutionary concepts that propose a fundamentally new understanding of the universe’s existence. In our formulation, the very laws of physics themselves have, in a way, evolved to…

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