Hartle and Hawking suggest that if we could travel backwards in time towards the beginning of the Universe, we would note that quite near what might otherwise have been the beginning, time gives way to space such that at first there is only space and no time. Beginnings are entities that have to do with time; because time did not exist before the Big Bang, the concept of a beginning of the Universe is meaningless. According to the Hartle–Hawking proposal, the Universe has no origin as we would understand it: the Universe was a singularity in both space and time, pre-Big Bang. Thus, the Hartle–Hawking state Universe has no beginning, but it is not the steady state Universe of Hoyle; it simply has no initial boundaries in time or space.
It is a functional of the metric tensor defined at a (D − 1)-dimensional compact surface, the Universe, where D is the spacetime dimension. The precise form of the Hartle–Hawking state is the path integral over all D-dimensional geometries that have the required induced metric on their boundary. According to the theory, time, as it is currently observed, diverged from a three-state dimension after the Universe was in the age of the Planck time.
Such a wave function of the Universe can be shown to satisfy, approximately, the Wheeler–DeWitt equation.
- Staff (University of Cambridge) (2 May 2018). "Taming the multiverse—Stephen Hawking's final theory about the big bang". Phys.org. Retrieved 2 May 2018.
- Hawking, Stephen; Hertog, Thomas (20 April 2018). "A smooth exit from eternal inflation? - abstract". Journal of High Energy Physics. 2018 (4). arXiv:1707.07702. Bibcode:2018JHEP...04..147H. doi:10.1007/JHEP04(2018)147.
- Hawking, Stephen; Hertog, Thomas (20 April 2018). "A smooth exit from eternal inflation? - full article". Journal of High Energy Physics. 2018 (4). arXiv:1707.07702. Bibcode:2018JHEP...04..147H. doi:10.1007/JHEP04(2018)147.
- Hawking, Stephen. "The Beginning of Time". Retrieved 10 March 2014.
- Dastidar, Samriddhi (3 March 2018). "Stephen Hawking Claims To Know What Happened Before The Big Bang". TechTimes.com. Retrieved 3 March 2018.
- Specktor, Brandon (2 March 2018). "Stephen Hawking on What Happened Before the Big Bang". LiveScience. Retrieved 3 March 2018.
- John D. Barrow, The Origin of the Universe: To the Edge of Space and Time, Basic Books, 1997.
- Hawking, S.; Hertog, T.; Reall, H. (2000). "Brane new world". Physical Review D. 62 (4): 043501. arXiv:hep-th/0003052. Bibcode:2000PhRvD..62d3501H. doi:10.1103/PhysRevD.62.043501.
- Hartle, J.; Hawking, S. (1983). "Wave function of the Universe". Physical Review D. 28 (12): 2960. Bibcode:1983PhRvD..28.2960H. doi:10.1103/PhysRevD.28.2960.