Stephen Hawking’s final research was just published, and it could help us find evidence for parallel universes

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Stephen Hawking

  • Stephen Hawking‘s final paper was just published in the Journal of High Energy Physics.
  • The paper predicts there are not infinite parallel universes in the multiverse, but instead a limited number.
  • These universes would have laws of physics like our own, the paper says.
  • It also explains how we might be able to see proof of this theory and find evidence for parallel universes by finding gravitational waves.

Ten days before he died, theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking submitted a final paper for publication.

That paper — titled "A smooth exit from eternal inflation?" — has now been published in the Journal of High Energy Physics. In it, Hawking and coauthor Thomas Hertog lay out a theory on the origin of the universe that might settle a few lingering questions.

One popular understanding of the Big Bang suggests that our universe is one in a "multiverse" of infinite parallel universes. The paper posists that the other universes out there follow the same laws of physics that exist in our universe.

This makes the number of possible universes much more manageable and testable, since it’s no longer an effort to understand infinite universes that could have different underlying rules of physics and chemistry.

"We are not down to a single, unique universe, but our findings imply a significant reduction of the multiverse, to a much smaller range of possible universes," Hawking said in a statement last fall.

The paper also implies that it might be possible to test this theory. Physicists could look for evidence of other universes using tools designed to measure ripples in spacetime — also known as primordial gravitational waves — that would have been generated by the universe’s initial expansion from the Big Bang.

Inflation that never stops

Hawking helped develop the theory that led to the idea of infinite parallel universes.

That concept relies on something known as "eternal inflation." The thinking, in essence, is that after the Big Bang, the universe — or all the universes — started to expand, but that process never stopped in some places. Our universe, by that logic, is just one pocket where that exponential inflation stopped and stars and galaxies formed. (Our universe is still expanding, but not in that rapid way.)

milky way universe"The usual theory of eternal inflation predicts that globally our universe is like an infinite fractal, with a mosaic of different pocket universes, separated by an inflating ocean," Hawking said in an interview last autumn, according to the University of Cambridge. "The local laws of physics and chemistry can differ from one pocket universe to another, which together would form a multiverse. But I have never been a fan of the multiverse. If the scale of different universes in the multiverse is large or infinite, the theory can’t be tested."

Hertog told Cambridge that the physics that would account for infinite parallel universes break down when applied to the theory of eternal inflation.

A boundary to eternal inflation

Hawking and Hertog’s new paper relies on string theory, a branch of physics that tries to reconcile quantum physics with gravity and Einstein’s theory of relativity. They came up with a new idea of eternal inflation that relies on a boundary at the beginning of time.

"When we trace the evolution of our universe backwards in time, at some point we arrive at the threshold of eternal inflation, where our familiar notion of time ceases to have any meaning," Hertog told Cambridge.

Starting from that boundary, the new theory predicts a finite structure of universes emerging from the Big Bang.

If this theory is proven true, it would suggest that other universes like our own could have emerged at that point. And there could even be primordial gravitational waves that match the inflation of the universe. But this new model is still far from proven, and physicists will need more data and a better understanding of string theory before that’s possible.

The existing instruments used to look for gravitational waves are probably not sensitive enough to find evidence of this theory, according to Hertog. But planned future instruments like the European space-based LISA gravitational wave observatory might be.

If we can detect that evidence, we’ll better understand how our universe and its laws came into being after the Big Bang — and we might know more about whatever other universes are out there.

SEE ALSO: 15 of the most remarkable and memorable things Stephen Hawking ever said

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: The surprising reason we boil lobsters alive

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NASA’s next Mars mission launches Saturday: Everything you need to know

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On Saturday, NASA will launch its next mission to Mars. This time the lander, known as InSight, is focused squarely on learning more about the inner-workings of the red planet. 

The space agency’s InSight lander is expected to take about seven months between launch and — if all goes well — landing on the planet in November to gather all the data it can about the Martian geology around it and below it.

While the mission probably won’t directly help humans get to Mars in the coming decades, the science InSight is tasked with is still pretty amazing.

Unlike earlier missions that mostly dealt with Mars’ surface features, InSight will take a look beneath the red dirt of the world to learn more about how the planet itself formed.  

“In some ways InSight is like a scientific time machine that will bring back information about the earliest stages of Mars’ formation four-and-a-half billion years ago,” NASA’s Bruce Banerdt, InSight’s principal investigator, said in a statement

“It will help us learn how rocky bodies form, including Earth, its moon, and even planets in other solar systems.”

InSight will hunt for “marsquakes”

While this lander may not be as flashy as other missions NASA has sent to Mars — I’m looking at you, Curiosity — it will search for something other spacecraft haven’t been able to measure. 

The car-sized lander will be on the lookout for “marsquakes,” which are similar to earthquakes, except on Mars. That said, marsquakes aren’t caused by plate tectonics, like most earthquakes on our home planet. 

Instead, marsquakes likely occur infrequently due to the contraction of rock as it cools.

Whenever a marsquake hits, InSight will take a photo of the world’s interior, giving scientists back on Earth a view of Mars from the inside.

“It will be a fuzzy picture at first, but the more quakes we see, the sharper it will get,” Banerdt said in a statement.

“We have to get clever. We can measure how various waves from the same quake bounce off things and hit the station at different times.”

InSight will piece together Mars’ past and the history of the solar system

By learning more about marsquakes and the Martian geology underfoot, researchers should have a chance to figure out the history of how the planet and others like it form.

“The signatures of the planet’s formation can only be found by sensing and studying its vital signs far below the surface,” NASA said.

Scientists have wanted to mount a mission like InSight for decades. 

While we know the broad strokes of how rocky worlds formed — planets condensed out of a cloud of gas and dust around the sun after the dawn of the solar system more than 4 billion years ago — we still need to understand more about why Mars is the cold, dead world it is today.

One important reason scientists are hunting for information about how Mars formed, along with other planets, is because they’re hoping to understand more about how planets outside of our solar system formed.

Even though InSight is a mission to Mars, it could help us learn more about our own home, too. 

“Some of the ever-increasing number of exoplanets identified around stars other than our sun may be similarly rocky and layered, though Earthlike worlds are smaller than the giant exoplanets whose size makes them easiest to find,” NASA said in a press release

“A key challenge in planetary science half a century into the Space Age is to understand factors that affect how newly forming planets with the same starting materials evolve into worlds as diverse as the terrestrial planets. As a particularly interesting corollary: What does it take to make a planet as special as Earth?”

It launches from a place that’s never sent a mission to Mars

On Saturday at 7:05 a.m. ET, InSight will launch to Mars atop an Atlas V rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, a launch site that has never before sent a spacecraft to Mars.

Other missions to Mars have typically launched from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, where the rotation of the Earth to the east helps the missions along on their way to space. InSight’s planned launch from the West Coast indicates that NASA wants to take advantage of the Atlas V’s power. 

This particular rocket, built by United Launch Alliance, is powerful enough to fly south from Vandenberg, meaning that it can get to Mars relatively easily from the West Coast, NASA said.

Also, the launch site’s schedule was meant that its pads were more available for this mission.

“Besides, Vandenberg Air Force Base is more available at this time to accommodate InSight’s five-week launch window,” NASA said.

The mission is also carrying two small
“cubesats” to Mars

For the first time in history, NASA will send two tiny satellites — called cubesats — to a world other than our own. 

The twin satellites, called Mars Cube One (MarCO) spacecraft, are designed as technology demonstrations, but they could one day be used to relay flight data from future Mars landings back to Earth, NASA said in a statement. 

Historically, the U.S. is the only country to ever successfully land rovers or landers on Mars, so having more information about what goes wrong (or right) during a landing could make it much easier to figure out how to be successful next time. 

Plus, the two MarCO satellites have some pretty adorable names. 

While the official names for the spacecraft are MarCO-A and MarCO-B, the two cubesats were nicknamed Wall-E and Eva by the engineers that built them, according to NASA. 

“These are our scouts,” MarCO’s chief engineer Andy Klesh said in a statement

“Cubesats haven’t had to survive the intense radiation of a trip to deep space before, or use propulsion to point their way towards Mars. We hope to blaze that trail.”

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A seat designed to make you healthier!

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Wanting to design a seat that guides you into sitting cross-legged, Gao Fenglin’s Meditation Seat can only be sat on in a certain way, guiding the user’s behavior and encouraging a seating position that keeps your back upright, and your legs folded inward. The cross-legged position finds itself dating thousands of years back in Oriental and Indian cultures. Used often for meditation as well as for eating, the posture is said to increase blood circulation and joint flexibility, while strengthening bones, and keeping your back upright. It also aids digestion.

The seat’s design is quite different from the kind you normally see. Looking like a saddle, with a strange concavity in the middle, you sit on the upper level of the seat with your leg folded inwards, and your feet occupying the lower area. Unusual for sure, the seat may not be particularly indicative (you might need someone to show you how to sit on it the first time), but it sure encourages a good and healthy practice of sitting in a way that’s good for you both physically, and if you’re into meditation, mentally too!

The Meditation Seat is a winner of the A’ Design Award for the year 2018.

Designer: Gao Fenglin

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This Chart Showing How Various Extravagant Purchases Are Literal Pocket Change To Billionaires Makes Me Sad

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billionaire money

Shutterstock / Maslowski Marcin

Odds are, most of you guys reading this aren’t reading it from a gold-encrusted toilet. You don’t have a mansion in the hills or a six-car garage or a fruit punch water fountain in your crib. You’re probably making enough loot to pay rent or a mortgage and indulge yourself on vacations and material objects occasionally. It ain’t ideal, but could be worse.

You want to feel shitty about your financial situation? You have no choice. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world with an $130 billion fortune, made an average of $107 million per day in 2017, per Business Insider calculations. The value of $1 to the average person equals about $88,000 to Bezos. It’s difficult to even conceptualize that much wealth.

The folks over at Business Insider crunched some numbers to determine how the spending power of billionaires, of which there are 2,000 worldwide, compares to that of average people (using a median household income of $59,039 per year).

The median fortune of a Forbes list billionaire is about $2 billion. A conservative 4% annual withdrawal rate would bring their income to about $80 million a year.

At that rate, the value of $1 to the average person is the same as $1,355 to a billionaire. That means the stomach pinch you feel when you drop $100 on something is how a billionaire feels when they spend $135,500.

Make yourselves feel awful by looking at the chart below and seeing how purchases for an average person equates to someone with a $2 billion fortune.

Business Insider

Now if you’ll excuse me while I scrape together enough change to buy a bagel for breakfast. Hey Bezos, FUCK YOU!

[h/t Business Insider]

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Facebook is open-sourcing its most powerful AI tools yet

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ktsimage via Getty Images

Facebook is continuing its push to more openly share its AI research and code with the release of PyTorch 1.0 — a deep-learning system that Facebook says represents a “fundamental shift” in open source AI frameworks. Traditionally, taking AI development from research to production has been a complex and time-intensive task involving multiple steps and various tools. PyTorch 1.0 has been designed to optimize the process.

The new framework draws on the modular, production-orientated features of Caffe2 and ONNX. Caffe2 was launched two years ago to standardize Facebook’s production AI tooling, but getting projects to this stage was a manual and often error-prone process. ONNX (Open Neural Network Exchange) was created to make the export process smoother, but complicated, time-consuming steps remained. PyTorch 1.0 fuses together features from both, giving developers a hybrid frontend to share code between prototyping and execution mode for production.

It’ll be available in beta within the next few months, and will include a family of tools, libraries, pre-trained models, and datasets for each stage of development, allowing developers to quickly create and deploy new AI innovations at scale. Its underlying technology already supports AI in most of Facebook’s products, including performing six billion translations a day. Obviously it’s dev-focused, but smarter AI means better everyone can expect better AI features as a result.

Click here to catch up on the latest news from F8 2018!

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Inside GIPHY’s NYC office where lunch is catered every day, employees play arcade games, and the walls are alive with GIFs

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Giphy NYC office

  • GIPHY’s office in New York City represents the company brand with color and character.
  • Employees enjoy catered lunch every day, a hanging garden, a coffee bar, and an arcade with virtual reality at GIPHY’s office.
  • The conference rooms are named after popular GIF search terms — such as cats, dogs, mind blown, and eye roll.

If you have ever sent or received a GIF, chances are you used GIPHY.

The GIF platform — which is featured on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Tinder, and Slack — hosts animated loops from live events, your favorite TV shows, and uploads of adorable pets.

After utilizing several different offices since the company’s founding days in 2013, GIPHY moved into its New York home in October 2016. The headquarters are in the Manhattan Meatpacking District with a second, smaller office in Los Angeles.

Jess Gilliam, Giphy’s brand creative director told Business Insider, "the most important thing to me in bringing new environments to the space is that we brought our personalities into the space."

Gilliam described the office space as fun, animated, and weird. Overall, she feels that the atmosphere is a pure reflection of GIPHY and sees the brand image in the color and character of the office.

Architect Andrew Harper told Business Insider the office was designed to be "a microcosm, a city feel but different environment that expresses their brand."

He also said that he received input from GIPHY employees and wanted to highlight their artistic talent when creating the design. Harper wanted to express the company "values in our space; friendliness, colorful, fun."

Take a look at the office space Harper designed and Gilliam and her colleagues use everyday:

SEE ALSO: The 20 charming GIFs that are most likely to get you a response on Tinder

DON’T MISS: Take a look at what employees at top companies like Facebook, LinkedIn, and PayPal do for fun in the office

Employees are immediately greeted by a coffee bar that doubles as a reception area when they enter the office.

On the left wall of the coffee bar is a GIF to showcase the employee of the week and that employee’s personal favorite GIF.

Next to the coffee bar is a lounge area with a large teddy bear to cuddle with. This area has a gallery of static art on the walls to complement the moving art around the rest of the office.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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Dude Stops NYC Drivers Stuck In Traffic To Ask Them Why The Hell They’re Honking, Gets A+ Answers

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Shutterstock / Mikayel Bartikyan

If you grew up and learned to drive elsewhere in the country then driving a car in NYC genuinely changes your driver DNA. I had a car in Manhattan for a little over four years and used it regularly.

Before I brought a car to the city I was a pretty polite driver. I’d never use my horn. That’s just not something you did when driving in Florida expect when you pulled up to a friend’s house and weren’t going to go knock on the door to get them. You could give a little honk of the horn to let them know you’re there. Other than that, the horn was off limits.

That’s not the case at all in NYC where you lay on the horn if a driver hesitates even for the tiniest fraction of a second. It’s so easy to slip into the role of an NYC driver because it genuinely makes sense to use the horn this way, or I so I believe. Jeff Seal for Gothamist hit the pavement to ask New York driver stuck in traffic why they use their horns, what they hope to accomplish by using their horns, and if using the horn ever works despite it being illegal to bang the horn:

Everywhere in the nation should use their horns like New Yorkers. The roads would be much more efficient. And drivers in Florida wouldn’t look at me like a crazy person every time I lay on my horn out of habit these days.

(h/t Tastefully Offensive)

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Patagonia ‘Unbounded’: Documentary Reveals Wild Controversies

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One film crew trekked for four months through one of the most rugged trails in the world. Their goal? To uncover the greatest threats to the Patagonian people and wilderness.

A recently released documentary film, “Unbounded” chronicles the unaided journey of four people from around the world, united to embark along one of the wildest treks on Earth. For four months, the crew hiked and packrafted through Patagonia on the longest continual trail in South America.

See the trailer below.

The Greater Patagonian Trail (GPT) cuts through one of the wildest regions of the planet. And the area – the size of Germany, Italy, and Spain combined – is difficult to access due to dense forest, snow-capped peaks, active volcanoes, and barren desert.

Following the film’s premiere in Fairfax, Va., the documentary will travel around the U.S., including stops in Boulder, Colo., and Jackson, Wyo.

Gear Junkie caught up with director Garrett Martin to learn about current environmental debates in Patagonia and Chile and why we should care.

Interview: Director Garrett Martin

GearJunkie: When did you learn about the Greater Patagonian Trail?

Martin: In August 2016, I was researching long hikes that would be demanding and test me. I recognized most of the classic top 10 longest hiking trails – except for the Greater Patagonian Trail. I’d always wanted to go to Patagonia.

The trail can be hiked in from the fall to spring, from December to May.

So – you only had four months to prepare for this hike and film project?

Yes – or else, I’d need to wait 1.5 years.

It was pretty hectic. I chose crew members from different countries and backgrounds so that relationships they formed were unique. Everyone was so inexperienced.

The nerves took on a new level when our wilderness guide backed out one week before we left. We brought on a new crew member.

Why were you driven to dive into this film project under those circumstances?

I sent an email to the trail’s founder, Jan Dudeck, and he replied with a short story about how incredible, mysterious, powerful, and intriguing this trail is. I knew it was something I had to do.

Then, no one else I talked to could put a finger on precisely what makes this place so unique. It’s one of the last truly wild places in the world. It’s a vast region that covers the entire bottom half of South America.

The idea behind the documentary was to figure out what makes this region so special and, in turn, why it is so important to protect it.

You interviewed 20 of the top environmental organizations and environmentalists across Chile: What is the most important issue?

Although Patagonia takes up a large portion of Chile, I’ll speak to Chile as a whole: The biggest problem that they have is a water code that allows water to be completely privatized.

Companies, organizations, and people can buy the rights to water and rivers and sell them for whatever they want. For the past 20 years, really large companies have bought the rights to water and rivers and turned them into a profit through mega hydroelectric dams.

Dams are extremely destructive to river ecosystems and their surrounding areas. We’ve been through the same issue in the U.S., and now we’re destroying our dams. Once a dam goes in, it leads to further development. Constructing a hydroelectric dam in a remote area requires building a road, which opens the door to extractive industries including logging and mining.

Power lines need to be built, which go from these remote areas for 50 to 100 miles to a city that needs the power, like Santiago. None of the small communities around the actual dam get the power.

Why were locals skeptical of the largest land donation in history, which was finalized when you were in Patagonia?

The Tompkins Organization, founded by the late Douglas Tompkins and his wife, Kristine, donated a total of 1 million acres to be preserved in three national parks. In an agreement, the Chilean government agreed to contribute 9 million acres of reserves and connecting land areas that would be turned into national parks.

Over the past 20 years, the Tompkinses purchased land for the sole intent of “re-wilding” it. Their goal was to donate it back to the Chilean government so that the land could be turned into a national park system. But a lot of the Chilean people were afraid these foreigners were purchasing land and making false promises so that they could keep the land themselves. Rumors circulated: Would these Americans keep the land for themselves? Would it become a tourist trap or completely destroy the landscape?

It took Tompkins 15 or so years to gain the Chileans’ trust. And now they have it, with this agreement that resolved in 10 million acres of protected land in Chile.

Are there any other current environmental controversies?

In southern Patagonia, there are controversies between the farmers and environmental organizations about about how to protect both the puma – and other large animals – and the private farms. Pumas are an extremely rare animal. They also destroy farmers’ land, sheep, and cattle – it’s their livelihood.

The question is: Should they be allowed to kill pumas that encroach on their land? Or, should the pumas be protected?

What has been the locals’ response to these issues?

A lot of environmental organizations have sprung up throughout the country and are fighting back. Locals have been really involved. Awareness is a lot higher than it used to be.

What is your biggest takeaway?

My biggest takeaway from this experience has been that if we love something, it’s our obligation to get involved by signing petitions, volunteering, and spreading the word. It’s our responsibility to protect what’s wild.

Patagonia is one of the most fragile ecosystems in the world. And we just don’t have places that exist like this anymore. It’s vitally important to protect them.

Can readers get involved?

The best way to get involved with these issues in Patagonia is to donate to the environmental organizations like Futaleufu Riverkeeper, Conservacion Patagonia, Puelo Patagonia, and Exploration Institute. Another huge relevant issue is that these grassroots groups are competing with one another for funding. And there is not a lot of money available.

When you learn about conservation issues in Patagonia, spread the word on social media.

Nothing replaces the support that’s gained by visitors actually going there.

–Check out an upcoming screening of “Unbounded,” or request a screening in a city near you. Ahead: Martin is producing a feature film with the interviews of these environmental organizations.

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