Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Does Hawking deserve a Nobel prize for his singularity theorem?

Tags:
  1. Jan 22, 2010 #1
    Hawking radiation is almost certainly not going to win him a Nobel prize, because experimental detection is beyond our technology. But how about the singularity theorem which he and Roger Penrose proved? This theorem convinced the physics community that black hole would indeed form in realistic situations found in our universe when massive stars run out of fusion fuel. Unlike Hawking radiation, the existence of black holes itself does have observational evidence, which the Nobel Committee requires. Maybe awarding him a Noble prize for the singularity theorem is a possible way of acknowledging this legendary wheel-chair genius? On the downside, I guess some people would argue that proving the singularity theorem doesn't carry that much physical significance, since the concept of black holes had been around for a long time, and the only thing Hawking and Penrose achieved was to silence the sceptics.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 22, 2010 #2
    Tag, I'd like to hear to pf communities opinion on this. I don't know anything about Hawking or what he's contributed, (so I should really just keep my mouth shut) but my knee jerk reaction is no.
     
  4. Jan 22, 2010 #3
    I would argue that experiments on earthbound analogues of BHs (Sonic for instance http://dsc.discovery.com/news/2009/06/17/sonic-black-hole.html [Broken]) may (longshot granted) provide observations that corroborate the QM process of Hawking Radiation. Observing the emission of Phonons in a manner consistant with HR would be a coup for that view of BHs. As for silencing skeptics... that isn't a trivial matter. The actual question however is one that I think will fall along "party lines". Either you feel that Stephen Hawking has made enormous contributions to this field and deserves recognition, or you're Kip Thorne. Sorry, I meant to say that you're someone who appreciates the elegance of the math, but has to admit that right now one could argue it's pure untestable theory; impossible to confirm or refute (which is dead science).

    I just don't know. I think I'd have to say yes, for his theorem and his incredible insight into the mechanics of rotating black holes. He probably deserves some kind of stellar honour for introducing generations of young people to physics; from the arcane to Hubble's view of Cosmology. Whether you credit the man for being what he is, and whether he would be a captivating figure out of the chair as any other man... is hard to know. I have to say, I hope he's right... it would be an amazing coup for theoretical physics on the order of confirming SR/GR piece by piece.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  5. Jan 22, 2010 #4

    atyy

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    No. He should get it for Hawking radiation, with Bekenstein, after it's detected.
     
  6. Jan 22, 2010 #5
    That would be incredibly satisying.
     
  7. Jan 23, 2010 #6
    I think Nobel Committee has not done anything bad to him yet, because he is still happy that his other fella and co-workers have not been honored by such a precious prize in place of him and of course HR has yet to become realistic.

    And I think, as most do, Sudarshan is the most glorious physicist active in the zone of elementary particles who was andante sacrificed for just a minor anachronism or stuff 5years ago and, instead, his co-worker Roy J. Glauber won the prize for Sudarshan's work!!!, as Sudashan once ironically said "The 2005 Nobel prize for Physics was awarded for my work, but I wasn’t the one to get it."

    AB
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2010
  8. Jan 23, 2010 #7

    George Jones

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    In The Nature of Space and Time, Hawking said/wrote,

    "Instead, almost everyone believes that the universe, and time itself had a beginning at the big bang. This is a discovery far more important than a few miscellaneous unstable particles, but not one that has been so well recognized by Nobel prizes."
     
  9. Jan 23, 2010 #8
    I would tend to agree with the man, but I'm not sure that fits Nobel criteria. That said, I'm not sure what to make of that statement, or its implications. Should the popularity of a theory lead to a Nobel, even when it is untested and some believe, untestable? *shrug*
     
  10. Jan 23, 2010 #9
    The Nobel prize for physics has had many components, including political and racial ones. Seems like there was a considerable past period when certain ethnicities were not recognized...that seems to have passed. The IPCC received oneusing about the most biased/flawed politically motivated studies imaginable. I have no idea what the specific Nobel criteria might be, but reasonable proof nor evidence does not seem to be required in some recent awards. It's their money so I guess they can dole it out any way they like.
     
  11. Jan 23, 2010 #10
    He should probably get the prize. But the Nobel committee has dropped the ball more than once. For example, George Gamow should certainly have gotten the prize for explaining tunneling (nuclear decay), etc., using quantum theory. For reasons unknown to perhaps all but a few old men, he was passed over.
     
  12. Jan 23, 2010 #11
    There is also the fact that Stephen Hawking is ALREADY wealthier and better known than most Nobel Lauriates. Once upon a time, a Nobel was an instant rise to a kind of fame... that has waned over the last century. Now other routes exist to fund research or a fine retirement... or to show general acceptance.
     
  13. Jan 23, 2010 #12

    mgb_phys

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    That's the Nobel PEACE prize - it is completely separate and awarded by politicians not scientists
     
  14. Jan 23, 2010 #13

    JesseM

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Has any physicist ever gotten a Nobel for purely theoretical work without experimental confirmation like the singularity theorem? As important as such work is in physics, I don't think the Nobel committee likes to give the award to anything non-experimental. And unless mini black holes can be created in near-future particle accelerators (which I think is only possible in theories with large extra dimensions), I don't see how we'd get experimental data on any of the properties of black holes that Hawking studied (Hawking radiation would be too weak to detect from astronomical black holes)
     
  15. Jan 23, 2010 #14

    mgb_phys

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Fred Hoyle didn't get it for Stellar nuclear synthesis when everybody else in the field did.
     
  16. Jan 23, 2010 #15
    It's a longshot, but it certainly shows that analgoues of the real beast could suffice. http://dsc.discovery.com/news/2009/06/17/sonic-black-hole.html [Broken]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  17. Jan 23, 2010 #16
    What is the measurable different between a black hole and a proto black hole? A proto black hole, has a mass slightly greater than its radius.
     
  18. Jan 23, 2010 #17
    Maybe he meant Primordial? I've seen people get the terms confused... unless he was taking a terribly roundabout way of saying "Star". :tongue2:
     
  19. Jan 24, 2010 #18
    I'd like to see someone defend his assertion against the strong doubts as I've expressed in my signature below. Maybe I'm just too stupid to get it, but without it, I'll continue to think the black hole believers are happily delusional.
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2010
  20. Jan 24, 2010 #19

    JesseM

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Do you think it's delusional to think general relativity is probably correct at far lower energy densities than the Planck scale, and thus that its theoretical predictions about collapsing stars becoming black holes are very likely to be correct too? Or do you think that, even given the assumption that GR is correct on a theoretical level, it's delusional to think that various astronomical objects which appear to fit the profile for what GR would predict about black holes (like this one, which does have what seems to be an accretion disc and jets in photos...likewise, see here and here for photos of a jet from the center of M87 which is believed to contain a supermassive black hole) are in fact black holes?
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2010
  21. Jan 24, 2010 #20
    Actually I feel you are a little bit too delusional about things that are not today talked about from the angle you see 'em because it's been a long time since they were discovered in the real world. You get to have a look at this http://www.physics.purdue.edu/astro/ListerPapers/Observational%20evidence%20for%20the%20accretion-disk%20origin%20for%20a%20radio%20jet%20in%20an%20active%20galaxy.pdf" [Broken] which provides an observational evidence for the accretion disk origin for a radio jet or just visit Arxiv.org and start searching the relevant stuff in there to find over than 1,000 entries on the subject of accretion disks, removing your doubt in their existence!

    AB
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  22. Jan 24, 2010 #21
    I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume that Phrak is aware of current imaging studies of (commonly accepted, by me as well) BHs. I think he's positing that something other than a singularity enshrouded by an event horizon is causing polar jets, and accretion discs. At this point however I'd say that's a pointless speculation. BHs are not wild theory, but the best working material a pretty well verified theory (GR) provides us with. Does that mean that the superdense object behaving like a BH is actually a point where... well... everything is destroyed utterly at the singularity? Who knows, and new theories to describe such a space aren't being developed by people who reject their existence entirely.

    Personally, I don't think it matters right now, because the models of whatever is generating the artifacts observed in the images linked by JesseM and Altabeh must be VERY close to an object that would be hidden by an Event Horizon. Does it really matter if it's a String Theory "Fuzzball" behind that event horizon, or "Green Slime and Lost Socks"? No. Unless earthbound anaogues of BHs can show experimental evidence of HR, we'll just have to wait in even more precise mesurements. That said, from a purely phenomenological it doesn't matter one way or the other.

    Singularities are predicted by GR, and the associated artifacts have PROBABLY been observed, and provide explanations of LGRBs, superluminal jets, etc... Before you stand on the mountaintop and shout that everyone is a fool for believing in, or working with, the best current observations backing up a well verified theory... offer YOUR brilliant explanation... and please, in the kind of detail you'd expect from someone with a view contrary to your own.

    Finally... if you want to make a point in a serious discussion online, your signiture is not the best delivery mechanism. ;)
     
  23. Jan 24, 2010 #22
    While I have no issue with current black hole theory, I do think the alternative http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Star_(semiclassical_gravity)" [Broken] sounds interesting.

    Related paper-

    'Small, dark, and heavy: But is it a black hole?' by Matt Visser, Carlos Barcelo, Stefano Liberati & Sebastiano Sonego (2009)

    http://arxiv.org/abs/0902.0346
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  24. Jan 24, 2010 #23
    It is interesting, but as with formulations for naked singularities, gravstars, etc... it doesn't work in all of the multitutde of situations where (gravitational) singularities arise in GR. Before we go off inventing theories that are essentially baseless because we dislike the IDEA of a BH, maybe closer examination of these massive bodies is warrented?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  25. Jan 24, 2010 #24

    atyy

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Visser's work is motivated by quantum gravity considerations. At present, there is no known way to extend the Einstein-Hilbert to the Planck scale. So the possibility that the EH action is only a low energy effective action is being explored. However, the Weinberg-Witten says that the EH action cannot be a low energy effective action if the high energy action is Lorentz invariant, 4 dimensional etc. Thus high energy actions without Lorentz invariance are being theoretically explored by Visser and Horava, among others. If Lorentz invariance is broken, there is an argument from Ted Jacobson that black holes can be perpetual motion machines, which suggests either that Lorentz invariance is not broken or that black holes do not exist.
     
  26. Jan 24, 2010 #25
    I think that the simple fact that there is no unification between the macroscopic and microscopic makes me leery of challenges to the existance of BHs such as those from Ted Jacobson. There are plenty of theories which are consistant with observations and GR/SQM, but they are unproven and maybe unrproveable. Alas. Then again, maybe BHs really are enshrouded singularities, or boundary conditions on which information is encoded a la The Holographic Principle. Nothing I've read from Visser or others is convincing in all of the many ways that collapse or accretion could lead to some BHs. In some cases they make more sense... but when has that ever mattered?
     
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook