Stephen Hawking claims to have won bet on inflation theory of universe
20 March 2014
Renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has claimed to have won a bet against South African physicist Neil Turok over his Big Bang Theory.
Hawking told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that he won a bet as the discovery of gravitational waves in the universe had proven his theory of 'inflation', the Daily Mirror reported.
Inflation is the huge burst of energy following big bang, when the universe inflated in size by 100 trillion times, faster than the speed of light, which proved Turok was wrong in believing there were a series of big bangs.
Hawking had bet Turok, director of the Perimeter Institute in Canada, that gravitational waves from the first fleeting moments following the big bang would be detected.
Hawking told BBC Radio 4' Today programme that the discovery of gravitational waves, announced on Monday by researchers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics, disproved Turok's theory that the universe cycled endlessly from one big bang to another.
"It is another confirmation of inflation," Hawking told the Today programme. "It also means I win a bet with Neil Turok, director of the Perimeter Institute in Canada, for cyclic universe theory predicts no gravitational waves from the early universe," The Guardian quoted Hawking.
Turok, however, urged caution over the latest claims. "First of all, I should say this is just a spectacular result, and right or wrong, it actually indicates we are right on the threshold of a completely new window into the big bang and what happened at the big bang, so it's tremendously exciting," he said.
But he added, "I have reasons for doubts about the new experiment and its results. It's not entirely convincing to me, but they have clearly seen what they claim to have seen. Verification is very important and it's wise to be a little bit sceptical at the moment when there is no confirmation. The experiment was extremely difficult, and they don't entirely explain why they are so convinced of what they claim … The problem with the inflationary theory is that it really doesn't explain the beginning. Stephen has postulated a way of starting the universe off, but it doesn't seem to work."