Has Stephen Hawking Been Wrong For The Last 30 Years?

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.

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