With his cutting-edge research on black holes in the 1970s, Stephen Hawking emerged as a major player in the physics world. Then, with the 1988 publication of the bestseller, A Brief History of Time, Hawking achieved international celebrity status.
As this BBC presentation shows, Hawking’s fame might rest on weaker foundations than most could have imagined. Several important physicists, including Leonard Susskind here at Stanford (see our previous references to him), zeroed in on Hawking’s major contention that, when black holes disappear, they take along with them all information that ever existed inside them, which leads to the logical conclusion that there are clear limits to what scientists could ever know about black holes. After 20 years of debate, the Susskind camp seems to have won out, leaving Hawking’s legacy in question. This BBC web page will give you the backstory in brief, but you may want to go straight to this 50 minute video.