Cambridge physicist Stephen Hawking and his CERN colleague Thomas Hertog have proposed a radical new approach to understanding the universe that studies it from the "top down" rather than the "bottom up" as in traditional models. The approach acknowledges that the universe did not have just one unique beginning and history but a multitude of different beginnings and histories, and that it has experienced them all. But because most of these other alternative histories disappeared very early after the Big Bang to leave behind the universe we observe today, the best way to understand the past, they say, is to trace our knowledge back from the present (Phys. Rev. D 73 123527).