Roger Penrose on Hawking Points in the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation

Roger Penrose’s theory of conformal cyclic cosmology, as described in his 2010 book Cycles of Time, attempts to explain the extraordinarily low entropy of the early universe by replacing cosmic inflation (which he believes won’t work, at least as presently formulated) by an endless series of “aeons” in which the runaway expansion of the previous becomes the big bang of the next.

But if there was a universe before the big bang, is it possible we might find traces of it that survived the big bang and subsequent expansion to the present day? Penrose argues that the evaporation of the supermassive black holes which form the end state of the previous aeon might have imprinted points into the subsequent aeon that we can detect as artefacts in the cosmic microwave background radiation. In a 2018 paper, he and three co-authors argued in a paper that “Apparent evidence for Hawking points in the CMB Sky” had been detected, with high statistical significance, in maps of the cosmic background from the Planck and WMAP spacecraft.

In this popular lecture, Penrose presents his theory of cosmology, the mechanism that produces Hawking points, and the evidence for their existence. This matter is highly controversial, with others arguing the data suggesting Hawking points were misinterpreted.

Now, if it is possible for a signal in the cosmic microwave background to send information from one aeon to the next, might a super-civilisation in the late stages of the previous aeon have encoded a message just waiting for us to decode it? Penrose and V. G. Gurzadyan discuss this in the 2015 paper “CCC and the Fermi paradox”.

The corresponding bit strings might be imagined as having been transmitted, perhaps just within a single aeon, by Arecibo-type antenna over Galactic distances. One may speculate that such transmitted information, if decoded by networks of von Neumann automata or some other means, could even be equivalent to the travel of an entire civilization within an aeon, or possibly even from one CCC aeon to another. Might it be possible to eavesdrop on previous-aeon signals or even, conceivably, to reconstruct an entire previous aeon civilization? Far-fetched as such ideas may well seem, they should not be rejected out of hand, without consideration. No doubt there could well be numerous other possibilities we have not conceived of.

Roger Penrose shared the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics “for the discovery that black hole formation is a robust prediction of the general theory of relativity”.