University of Oxford mathematical physicist Sir Roger Penrose won a Nobel Prize earlier this month for a lifetime of studying black holes that not even light can escape. Yet he is also behind a provocative and controversial theory about the formation of the universe – namely that the Big Bang did not mark the beginning of the universe as we know it, but simply started the next iteration of our universe. In his theory, known as conformal cyclical cosmology, our current conception of the universe is just one of a series of infinite universes that came before it and that will also come after.
Cosmology is, of course, fraught with theories of varying degrees of hardness, and many of the most famous ones ̵
‘The idea of Rogers’ conformist cyclical cosmology’ [CCC], is based on three facts, “Pawel Nurowski, a scientist at the Center for Theoretical Physics at the Polish Academy of Sciences, explained to Salon via e-mail.
‘The idea of Rogers’ conformist cyclical cosmology’ [CCC]”is based on three facts,” Pawel Nurowski, a scientist at the Center for Theoretical Physics at the Polish Academy of Sciences, explained to Salon via e-mail. Specifically, Nurowski says that in order for Penrose’s theory to make sense, one had to observe a universe that has a positive cosmological constant (meaning the mysterious, constantly repulsive force that pushes everything in the universe that is not gravely bound away from everything else), as well as a universe that looks alike at its end, as it did in Observations of our universe suggests that it ends up in a disordered, empty state with all matter transformed into itinerant photons that never interact with each other.
Nurowski concluded, “We believe that every possible universe will have all three of these features,” that “we have an infinite number of universes (eons)” and that “Penrose considers this sequence of conformed glued eons as the full physical universe. “
“In this image, our ordinary cosmological universe is just one of eons,” Nurowski added. “So the biggest difference between ‘conformal cyclical cosmology’ and standard cosmology is that our universe is only part of Penrose’s universe,” whereas proponents of the traditional idea of the Big Bang believe that the specific event began our current universe.
This brings us to the recent discovery that may support Penrose’s CCC hypothesis. According to a paper co-authored by Penrose, Nurowski and two other scientists, unexpected hot spots that have been discovered in the cosmic microwave background of the universe suggest that there are “irregular regions”, perhaps huge black holes left from previous universes that have yet not decayed. These regions are known as “Hawking Points” after Stephen Hawking, who first came up with the theory that black holes would decay very slowly over unimaginably long time scales and emitted what is called Hawking radiation in his honor. The discovery of these Hawking points suggests that Penrose’s cosmological model is accurate.
“The existence of such irregular regions due to point-like sources in the conformally extensive big bang is a predicted consequence of conformal cyclical cosmology (CCC),” the paper explains, adding that these so-called Hawking points would be caused by radiation, derived from “supermassive black holes in a cosmic aeon before our own.”
It should be emphasized that Penrose’s Nobel Prize was not awarded because of his theory of a conformal cyclical cosmology. Harvard astrophysicist Avi Loeb clarified in an email to Salon: “In 1939, Albert Einstein wrote a paper in the Annals of Mathematics questioning the existence of black holes in nature. Roger Penrose demonstrated that black holes are a robust prediction of Einstein’s general theory of relativity and thereby invented a new mathematical tool for depicting space-times, called Penrose diagrams. “
Loeb added: “He also showed that it is possible to extract energy from a rotating black hole, as if it were a flywheel through the so-called Penrose Process.”
Loeb says Penrose’s belief that hot spots prove that the black holes in question came from earlier universes is controversial.
The particular theory recommended by Penrose, Conformal Cyclic Cosmology, claims that the Big Bang expansion is repeated in order of expansion cycles, suggesting that one can see through our current Big Bang in the Big Bangs of the past, giving rise to patterns in cosmic microwave background, “Loeb explained.” Penrose made the controversial claim that such patterns are seen in data, but it was shown by others that the patterns he identified are not statistically significant … and his claim is therefore controversial. . “
There are skeptics in the astrophysics community. Ethan Siegel, an astrophysicist who writes a science blog published in Forbes magazine, was very critical of Penrose’s theory. Last week, he wrote an article titled “No, Roger Penrose, we see no evidence of a ‘universe before the Big Bang.'”
“The predictions there [Penrose] has made is rejected by the data, and his claims to see these effects are only reproducible if one analyzes the data in a scientifically unhealthy and illegal way, “Dr. Siegel wrote. Hundreds of researchers have pointed this out to Penrose – repeatedly and consistently over a period of more than 10 years – who continues to ignore the field and plow forward with his claims. “
Nurowski and Loeb both pushed against Siegel’s claims.
“The person who wrote this article never seems to read our recent paper on monthly announcements,” Nurowski wrote to Salon, linking to him and Penrose’s article showing evidence of Hawking points. “[Siegel] also does not seem to read our three other papers. He gives a quote from a picture from an old paper with Penrose and Gurzadyan. He does not have a single argument against our latest MNRAS [Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society] paper …. I emphasize that the statistical analysis in our paper is at the highest astronomical standards. “
He added: “I am happy to answer any critic, provided I hear a single argument against this, what we have written, and not the repetition of this, what standard cosmology says. Either we are talking about facts or beliefs. Our paper is about facts. But to talk about them, you have to read the paper first. “
Loeb seemed to repeat this view despite his own skepticism of the CCC.
“My problem with Penrose’s theory is that it is not fully elaborated and that there is no statistically conclusive evidence to support the patterns he claims to have identified in the cosmic microwave background, but we must remain open to new ideas about , what preceded the Big Bang, ”Loeb explained. “This is the story of where we came from, our cosmic roots. The simple picture we have now is clearly incomplete and requires more scientific work. No more bullying of any new idea.”