Was there another universe before ours? Nobel laureate Roger Penrose claims 'Big Bang was not the beginning'
There was an “earlier universe” before the Big Bang, and the evidence for its existence can be observed in black holes, claimed Nobel Prize-winning physicist Sir Roger Penrose. An honorary fellow and alumnus of St John’s College, University of Cambridge, and an honorary doctor of the University, he jointly won the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery that black hole formation is a robust prediction of the general theory of relativity. According to him, “unexplained spots of electromagnetic radiation” in the sky – known as Hawking Points – are remnants of a previous universe that existed before the Big Bang.
The six “warm points” he found in the sky are around eight times the diameter of the Moon, he told The Telegraph. The points are named after Professor Stephen Hawking who theorized that Black holes leak radiation and over a long period they will evaporate away completely. Pensore says that these points are part of the “conformal cyclic cosmology”, suggesting that they could be the final expulsion of energy or “Hawking radiation” by black holes from an earlier universe. Black holes capture everything that enters them, not even light can escape them.
“I claim that there is observation of Hawking radiation. The Big Bang was not the beginning. There was something before the Big Bang and that something is what we will have in our future. We have a universe that expands and expands, and all mass decays away, and in this crazy theory of mine, that remote future becomes the Big Bang of another eon,” said Penrose. He added, “So our Big Bang began with something which was the remote future of a previous eon and there would have been similar black holes evaporating away, via Hawking evaporation, and they would produce these points in the sky, that I call Hawking Points. We are seeing them. These points are about eight times the diameter of the Moon and are slightly warmed up regions. There is pretty good evidence for at least six of these points.”
The idea is controversial and has been criticized, but Penrose said black holes were also once considered controversial. “People were very skeptical...it took a long time before black holes were accepted...their importance is, I think, only partially appreciated,” he told BBC.
Astrophysicist Ethan Siegel, however, believes that Penrose is wrong and there is no evidence of a universe before the Big Bang. “Like many before him, he appears to have fallen so in love with his own ideas that he no longer looks to reality to responsibly test them. Yet these tests exist, the critical data is publicly available, and Penrose is not just wrong, it’s trivially easy to demonstrate that the features he claims should be present in the universe do not exist,” he wrote in Forbes.
Siegel further stated, “While we should laud the creativity of Penrose and celebrate his groundbreaking, Nobel-worthy work, we must guard ourselves against the urge to deify any great scientist, or the work they engage in that isn’t supported by the data. In the end, regardless of celebrity or fame, it’s up to the universe itself to discern for us what’s real and what’s merely an unsubstantiated hypothesis, and for us to follow the universe’s lead, regardless of where it takes us.”
Penrose shares the 2020 Physics Nobel with Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez who developed methods to see through the huge clouds of interstellar gas and dust to the center of the Milky Way. According to the Nobel Prize website, Penrose used ingenious mathematical methods in his proof that black holes are a direct consequence of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity. Einstein did not himself believe that black holes existed. But in January 1965, 10 years after Einstein’s death, Penrose proved that black holes really can form and described them in detail. At their heart, black holes hide a singularity in which all the known laws of nature cease. His groundbreaking article is still regarded as the most important contribution to the general theory of relativity since Einstein.
“The discoveries of this year’s Laureates have broken new ground in the study of compact and supermassive objects. But these exotic objects still pose many questions that beg for answers and motivate future research. Not only questions about their inner structure but also questions about how to test our theory of gravity under the extreme conditions in the immediate vicinity of a black hole,” said David Haviland, chair of the Nobel Committee for Physics.