Stephen Hawking may have a shot at a Nobel Prize now

May 3, 2016

By Bob Fredericks

Stephen Hawking’s decades-old black-hole theory has been confirmed by another scientist — and that may finally land the renowned physicist on the short list for a Nobel Prize.

Hawking — whose life with his former wife and struggle with motor neuron disease were dramatized in the 2014 movie “The Theory of Everything” — calculated back in 1974 that tiny particles should be able to rob black holes of a minuscule fraction of their energy and then escape.

That means that the black holes would slowly evaporate over time, spewing out all the dust, light and passing stars they had swallowed in a trickle of heat.

Conventional wisdom at the time said that black holes were places where gravity pulled so hard that nothing could get out, including light.

The development could open up a bizarre vision of the universe in which black holes can cough themselves into nothingness, Hawking said during recent lectures on the BBC and at Harvard.

“This raises a serious problem that strikes at the heart of our understanding of science,” he said.

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12 comments on “Stephen Hawking may have a shot at a Nobel Prize now

  • 1
    Pinball1970 says:

    Brilliant, this is perfect eye bleach for American, crazy, Christian, candidates and lunatic manic murdering muslims.

    Hawking -the information paradox? Do we have any physics guys who can explain this to me?

    I thought Leonard Susskind won that particular battle and Hawking changed his mind more than once in the meantime.

    I watched the documentary and still did not get it.

    Also physics forums shattered one of my assumption regarding virtual particles and Hawking radiation, I don’t trust google/wiki with this sort of thing anymore.

    Phil / Alan usually make this sort thing clearer so they are my first port of call.

    So….Does he deserve one, for which for particular work and can you explain it?


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  • “This raises a serious problem that strikes at the heart of our understanding of science,”

    No, it means that what you thought was true about something isn’t true or that it’s true under certain conditions. That has nothing to do with the scientific process. That would typically require the creation of a more robust system to observe, test and predict the natural world we live in.

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  • Pinball1970 #1
    May 6, 2016 at 8:20 am

    Phil / Alan usually make this sort thing clearer so they are my first port of call.

    While I am an environmental biologist, and well informed on space technologies, I usually leave theoretical physics to the physicists.

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  • Observations of Hawking Radiation (radiation obeying the mathematics Hawking uses around black holes’ eating habits) have been claimed for a while now in at least two types of black-hole-a-like situations, laser beam bow wave event horizons and a couple of phonon base examples like this one.

    Phonons are conceptual understandings of mechanical energy, quantized and elemental, in condensed matter. They are a way of analysing say heat conduction, that elastic vibrational movement in matter that propagates. Phonons, packets of mechanical energy, are analogous to photons, packets of electromagnetic energy. The same mathematics can be used very often, with a whole slew of analogous phenomena being observed. These “sonic” (physicists say phonon) lab tests are a good stab at extending the range of possible analogous behaviours and a strong hint at Hawking radiation in the form of photons from black hole event horizons being real.

    The “information loss paradox” (black holes slowly leaking their mass/energy contents but stripped of the information that fell in) is far from confirmed by this. (This is silly journalism. Hawking radiation, though only a hypothesis, was pretty broadly accepted as likely. The paradox conceptually already taken on in a variety of ways.)

    The problem arises perhaps because our theories of general relativity and quantum mechanics are as yet not integrated and this stuff happens just at the interface of the two. Indeed a couple of theories seek to fix the problem of information loss, the most recent being Hawking’s own, announced only this year. Now that could be the cherry on the top of a Nobel Prize for him!

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  • Phil #6

    “If you throw information at a black hole, just before it is
    swallowed, the black hole first makes a copy that is left outside.
    This copying mechanism was discovered by Albert Einstein in 1917, and
    without it, physics cannot be consistent,” Adami said.

    Is there an easily understandable link to how the copy is made and why? Thanks in advance!

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  • Olgun #6

    Here’s a lovely account of the pivotal 1917 paper On the Quantum Theory of Radiation.

    Let your eye slide over the maths and rest on the solid chunks of English to get a feel for whats going on. Look out for Stimulated Emission references particularly. But do note that this paper is also the basis for quantum electrodynamics, our most perfectly accurate scientific theory to date. (The 1917 paper was almost as profound in its implications as any of the relativaties papers.) Then…

    The Wiki entry on stimulated emission (the copying machine) is good. Take in the very first paragraph and the overview taking in the diagram and notice how an incoming photon has an exact copy of it (in frequency and phase…they wiggle in perfect lock step) made by the electron in an atom changing between exactly the right energy states. Note under the diagram the invocation of phonons as identical in behaviour to photons and being susceptible to stimulated emission.

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  • Maybe I should have asked for an idiots idiot guide 🙂

    It just made me think of the replicators in RDs ‘Selfisg Gene’ and if it might have some significance?

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  • Olgun, sorry I didn’t have time to give you a shorter answer. I’ll sort something out presently.

    These replicators are too perfect to serve Dawkin’s purpose of evolving replicators. The tiny level of error making needed is surprisingly specific to survive specific rates of variabilities in environments….

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