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Stephen Hawking has claimed victory in a bet with a rival scientist after an experiment indicated that his theories about the origins of the universe were correct.

Prof Hawking, director of research at Cambridge University’s Centre for Theoretical Cosmology, clinched bragging rights over former colleague Prof Neil Turok following American researchers’ discovery of evidence of cosmic ‘inflation’.

Much of Prof Hawking’s work in the 1980s focused on developing the theory of inflation, which would explain why the universe today is so remarkably uniform, but has slight variations.

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