Laura Mersini-Houghton

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Laura Mersini-Houghton
Portrait of Laura Mersini-Houghton
Dr. Mersini-Houghton at Hay Festival in 2013
Born Tirana, Albania
Nationality Albanian-American
Fields cosmology and theoretical physicist
Institutions University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Alma mater Tirana University
University of Maryland
University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee
Doctoral advisor Leonard Parker
Known for work on theory of multiverses

Laura Mersini-Houghton (née Mersini) is an Albanian-American cosmologist and theoretical physicist, and associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a proponent of the multiverse hypothesis which holds that our universe is one of many.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8] She argues that anomalies in the current structure of the universe are best explained as the gravitational tug exerted by other universes.[9][10]


Mersini-Houghton received her B.S. degree from the University of Tirana, Albania, and her M.Sc. from the University of Maryland.[11] She was awarded a Ph.D. in 2000 by the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. After earning her doctorate, Mersini-Houghton was a postdoctoral fellow at the Italian Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa from 2000 to 2002. In 2002 she had a postdoctoral fellowship for two years at Syracuse University.[11] She accepted a job as faculty at University of North Carolina, and in January 2004, she started as assistant professor of theoretical physics and cosmology at UNC and was granted tenure in 2008.[11]


On October 11, 2010, Laura Mersini-Houghton appeared in a BBC programme What Happened Before the Big Bang (along with Michio Kaku, Neil Turok, Andrei Linde, Roger Penrose, Lee Smolin, and other physicists) where she propounded her theory of the universe as a wave function on the landscape multiverse.[12] Mersini-Houghton's work on multiverse theory is discussed in the epilogue of a recently published biography of Hugh Everett III.[13] See also a discussion of her ideas in the context of the history and philosophical implications of the idea of a multiverse here.[14]

In September 2014, she claimed to demonstrate mathematically that, given certain assumptions about black hole firewalls, current theories of black hole formation are flawed.[15] She claimed that Hawking radiation causes the star to shed mass at a rate such that it no longer has the density sufficient to create a black hole.[16][17]


  1. ^ Catchpole, Heather (November 24, 2009). "Weird data suggests something big beyond the edge of the universe". Cosmos (magazine). Retrieved July 27, 2014. 
  2. ^ Moon, Timur (May 19, 2013). "Planck Space Data Yields Evidence of Universes Beyond Our Own". International Business Times. Retrieved July 27, 2014. 
  3. ^ MacIsaac, Tara (January 23, 2014). "Colossal ‘Hole’ in Space Could Be Link to Universe Beyond Our Own". The Epoch Times. Retrieved July 27, 2014. 
  4. ^ Chown, Marcus (November 24, 2007). "The void: Imprint of another universe?". New Scientist. Retrieved July 27, 2014. 
  5. ^ Maynard, James (May 28, 2013). "Other universes detected in oldest light in the Cosmos?". iTech Post. Retrieved July 27, 2014. 
  6. ^ Taylor, Rosie (May 19, 2013). "Is our universe merely one of billions? Evidence of the existence of 'multiverse' revealed for the first time by cosmic map". Daily Mail. Retrieved July 27, 2014. 
  7. ^ Cauchi, Stephen (December 9, 2007). "Into the void: a glimpse of our tiny place in the scheme of things". The Age. Retrieved July 27, 2014. 
  8. ^ Segal, Michael (October 3, 2013). "Ingenious: Laura Mersini-Houghton: The Universe Chaser". Nautilus. Retrieved July 27, 2014. 
  9. ^ Leake, Jonathan (May 19, 2013). "Cosmic map reveals first evidence of other universes". The Sunday Times. Retrieved July 27, 2014. 
  10. ^ The News (March 19, 2014). "Could Big Bang ripples prove the existence of a PARALLEL universe? Gravitational wave discovery paves the way for the ‘multiverse’". National Headlines. Retrieved July 27, 2014. 
  11. ^ a b c University of North Carolina, Department of Physics and Astronomy
  12. ^ "Two Programmes - Horizon, 2010-2011, What Happened Before the Big Bang?". BBC. Retrieved 2011-01-02. 
  13. ^ Byrne, Peter (2010). The many worlds of Hugh Everett III : multiple universes, mutual assured destruction, and the meltdown of a nuclear family (1st ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-955227-6. 
  14. ^ Rubenstein, Mary-Jane (2014). Worlds Without End: The Many Lives of the Multiverse (1st ed.). New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-15662-2. 
  15. ^ Brian Koberlein (2014-09-25). "Yes, Virginia, There Are Black Holes". One Universe at a Time. Retrieved 2014-10-17. 
  16. ^ "Carolina’s Laura Mersini-Houghton shows that black holes do not exist". University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 23 September 2014. Retrieved 24 September 2014. 
  17. ^ "UNC professor says black holes can't exist". WNCN. 23 September 2014. Retrieved 24 September 2014. 

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