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Hawking: A true genius!

  1. Jul 21, 2004 #1
    For me, personally, to become a genius, you must be able to admit being wrong.

    With that out of the way; I just read in Nature Science Highlights, that Stephen Hawking of Cambridge University admitted to being wrong in that black holes obliterate all information.

    He previously thought that, in a black hole, spacetime would pinch, to form a singularity. This singularity was infinitely small. Thus, the information was destroyed.

    Recently, he has been working on a quantum theory of gravity. (he's been trying to merge QT with Relativity). Hawking changed his mind from the singularity being infinitely small, to that it just curves spacetime severely, allowing information to be (if necessay, in theory) retrieved.

    Check it out at Nature.com

    Paden Roder
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 21, 2004 #2
    I would find it hard to renounce my life's work (even without the publicity). Here Hawking succeeds like few other in the world can. I wonder how a normal scientist (with full physical capabilities) would react if something similar happened to him/her?
     
  4. Jul 21, 2004 #3
    Amazing.

    Paden Roder
     
  5. Jul 21, 2004 #4

    marcus

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    Hi Paden,

    the latest I have about the hawking story is a reuters article of about an hour ago

    http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=scienceNews&storyID=5732825

    it says he gave his Wednesday 21 July talk as expected and
    conceded the bet to john preskill as expected

    and the forfit was supposed to be an encyclopedia

    so he offered Preskill (an american living in southern california)
    an Encyclopedia of Cricket

    whatever happens Stephen hwking is coming out looking like a winner
     
  6. Jul 21, 2004 #5
    I don't think admitting mistakes is a genius thing; it is being an honest human being. Genius, in fact, is an overdone quality. It is best to wait and survey the entire lifetime of a person before declaring it. Part of it is possession of incredible inspiration and part of it is being widely watched and contemplated. Mozart was a genius, but that estimate only gained great momentum after the poor man died an early death.

    Hawking is like Einstein in drawing a lot of attention to himself. People seem to hang on the opinions of both men. People have waited breathlessly to see what each came up with next. Both men had the talent of attracting reporters. Both men wrote a number of popular books that kept people aware of them. Both made challenge and opposition to them a priority goal to would-be rivals.
     
  7. Jul 21, 2004 #6

    marcus

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    I agree with quart and also would add one detail that is just my personal take. I dont think the scientific content of his talk----if we can judge from the publicity----is a concession of defeat or admission of error.

    It is only presented dramatically in that light. but if you look at the content, it is more a triumphant crowing of eureka.
    "Look! I found a mechanism the info could leak out! Nobody else, including me, could think of a way that could happen! Now I have thought of a way!"

    Since no one could think of a mechanism for the info to leak out, tho they tried for 20-some years, hawking does not have to apologize for having made the obvious conclusion that the info died in the hole----he does not have to eat crow for that, it is just the natural thing to conclude.

    The 20-some year wait only dramatizes that apparently (at least in his view) he thinks there is a way the info can leak out while the hole is evaporating.

    It is not a moral victory to broadcast the cry of Eureka
    (and it only superficially looks like a Mea Culpa)

    the encyclopedia of Cricket is a nice touch
     
  8. Jul 21, 2004 #7
    Marcus I tend to agree - the whole thing is over done -- but I'll give HAWKING THE CREDIT OF OCCUPYING NEWTONS CHAIR , and his mathematics is apperently mostly done with a geometrical emphasis which is neat dealing with particles.
     
  9. Jul 21, 2004 #8

    selfAdjoint

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    I think that Hawking, perhaps like Dirac before him, feels the pressure of occupying Newton's chair. The pressure to keep generating big results. That pressure in my view led Dirac into some unwise theoretical excursions in his old age. We'll see how Hawking's new result plays out.
     
  10. Jul 21, 2004 #9
    To SelfA--

    I could never figure out why Dirac thought the positron was a proton , seems so obvious now.
     
  11. Jul 21, 2004 #10
    http://www.cerncourier.com/objects/2003/cerndesy1_4-03.jpg

    Like I said before, the way in which we look at energy determinations, asks us to consider the arrangement of particle reductionism processes, and how we might interpret this?

    Keeping your glasses on, you realize that the universe if viewed from harmonical values, describes for us the landscape Susskind so likes us to remember? :smile:
     
  12. Jul 21, 2004 #11
    Yes. I do agree with the both of you. But don't you think that is a good thing? That is, the drawing of attention to himself. I mean, it makes it interesting. Sparks the interest of the laymen. It may even inspire the next physics prodigy to actually get interested in physics in the first place.

    Also, I will give him credit. He has done a wonderful job fulfilling Newtons Chair at Cambridge.

    I hope, along with most everybody else, that he will not feel the presure of fulfilling it. To most of us, he has already earned it.

    Paden Roder
     
  13. Jul 22, 2004 #12

    marcus

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    definitely some truth here

    could be that the English are especially good at both understatement and eccentricity---these being two sides of the same coin

    and also that the occupant of Newton's chair is obliged by custom to be a bit odd, or at least singular enough to be the source of memorable quotations and the subject of anecdotes

    As a lay spectator I would much prefer to have my interest sparked than to have it, say, massaged by greasy metaphors

    and if we over here ever have the opportunity to cut a celebrities deal with the English and swap Brian Greene for Stephen Hawking, then I for one would gladly help pay the Air Freight.
     
  14. Jul 22, 2004 #13
    Classic, marcus. Classic

    Paden Roder
     
  15. Jul 22, 2004 #14

    marcus

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    Yes!
    Paden is right. Hawking has done all Physics-watchers a great service
    by getting us more interested and aware of the passage of time.

    does information gradually fade or wear out?
    does the passage of time allow information to slowly leak away?
    or is the passage of time "unitary" in the technical sense that
    information in a pure quantum state lasts forever?

    the Hawking-led controversy over black holes dramatizes this issue

    when was the mere passage of time ever more interesting than at this moment
     
  16. Jul 22, 2004 #15

    selfAdjoint

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    It's interesting that after decades of quiescence, the information paradox has received three major answers, from Hawking, 't Hooft, and Pullin et al. And AFAICS all three answers are orthogonal; no one advance in understanding underlies any two of them. Synchronicity? :biggrin:
     
  17. Jul 22, 2004 #16

    Integral

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    I see little connection to Strings or LQG is this thread, in fact since it is more ABOUT Hawking then physics perhaps it belongs in General Dissussion.
     
  18. Jul 22, 2004 #17
    When Einstein related time to space?

    Just kidding. I do agree.

    Paden Roder
     
  19. Jul 22, 2004 #18
    I do think Hawking is a great man of our time. But I did just get done reading his book "The Universe In A Nutshell" and I was disapointed. Some of it was great and I understand that it was suppost to be for the layman, but a lot of the stuff I felt was far fetched. Like the concept of imaginary time and speculations on the end or begining of the universe just sounded like philosophy 101 baloney too me.

    I wish I could have gotten his other book too at the library but it was checked out. Sigh...
     
  20. Jul 23, 2004 #19

    Moonbear

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    So, who's going to jump into the black hole to confirm he's right about the "stuff" coming out being informative about what's going on inside? When talking about what's going on inside a black hole, it seems there's a fine line between genius and crackpot!

    *ducks and runs for cover*

    Please, don't all the physicists attack me at once. I only know the lay version of Hawking's work, so have a hard time understanding how any of it can be anything more than speculation.
     
  21. Jul 23, 2004 #20
    Not speculation, Moonbear, but theories and mathematics. Loads of mathematics.

    Paden Roder
     
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