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The Black Hole War: My Battle with Stephen…

The Black Hole War: My Battle with Stephen Hawking to Make the World Safe…

by Leonard Susskind

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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I had no idea that Feynman diagrams were magnifiable ( he doesn't use the term ' fractal ' but that's what they are ) ... ! ( )
  Baku-X | Jan 10, 2017 |
I wonder how his arguments fare now when the concept of complementarity has been revised after they performed experiments where light displayed wave and particle nature at the same time... ( )
  AlienIndie | May 20, 2016 |
One of the best popular physics books I have read in a long time. Leonard Susskind's The Black Hole War spends 450 pages focused on one question: what happens when information is absorbed by a black hole? It is a debate between Stephen Hawking and other general relativists who think that the information is lost and Gerard 't Hooft, Leonard Susskind and others, who are deeply uncomfortable with the conclusion that black holes can violate the second law of thermodynamics by reducing entropy.

In the course of explaining this debate, Susskind necessarily goes through quantum mechanics, general relativity, string theory, and other areas of physics. And it is leavened with first person discussion of his personal odyssey and his obsession with Stephen Hawking, whose unvarnished portrait as epically arrogant and self-centered yet brilliant and charismatic is considerably more impressive than the pop culture version. The first person account not only makes for interesting reading it also lets you learn something about how science is advanced and debates are settled. Hawking posed his view in 1981. By 1993, there was significant theory/evidence that it was wrong but it still was not universally clear: at a conference in Santa Barbara the Susskind view prevailed in a 39-25 vote, not exactly the method most of us would recognize in determining universal scientific truths. By 2007 Hawking himself conceded in writing and paid a debt.

What makes the book so good, however, is how much Susskind explains in a fundamental way, as close to first principals as possible. One of the remarkable results of the last few decades is that the amount of information stored in a black hole is proportional to its surface area, not its volume. Susskind shows how this result is derived by solving several equations, most of them explained or semi-derived in the text itself, ending with the remarkable result that almost all of the arbitrary constants cancel and you're left with what appears to be one of those fundamental equations that make you believe that physicists really have figured out some of the fundamental laws of nature.

From explanations of Hawking radiation and Black Hole entropy, the book takes you through understanding why Hawking's view was so persuasive and the physical discoveries that were needed to overthrow it -- almost all of them generated by simple and profound thought experiments. The book shows that whether or not string theory is "true," it still helps settle existing questions and generate new ones, including the fact that the world can be thought of us a hologram that has a dual in a lower-dimensional, gravity-less world.

I felt myself following almost everything until the last quarter of the book, which focused on Quantum Chromodynamics and string theory. Not sure if my increasingly low comprehension rate was anything that could be remedied by Susskind or inherent in the material. ( )
  nosajeel | Jun 21, 2014 |
Relevant regarding Suskind's outstanding authorship regarding theoretical physics for the lay person versus Hawking's interpretation. ( )
  clifforddham | Mar 19, 2014 |
A very excellent book! We'll written and clear account if the latest thinking regarding black holes, their maths and their relationship with quantum mechanics and string theory. ( )
  jvgravy | Jan 25, 2014 |
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What is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe? -- Stephen Hawking
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316016403, Hardcover)

What happens when something is sucked into a black hole? Does it disappear? Three decades ago, a young physicist named Stephen Hawking claimed it did-and in doing so put at risk everything we know about physics and the fundamental laws of the universe. Most scientists didn't recognize the import of Hawking's claims, but Leonard Susskind and Gerard t'Hooft realized the threat, and responded with a counterattack that changed the course of physics. THE BLACK HOLE WAR is the thrilling story of their united effort to reconcile Hawking's revolutionary theories of black holes with their own sense of reality-effort that would eventually result in Hawking admitting he was wrong, paying up, and Susskind and t'Hooft realizing that our world is a hologram projected from the outer boundaries of space.
A brilliant book about modern physics, quantum mechanics, the fate of stars and the deep mysteries of black holes, Leonard Susskind's account of the Black Hole War is mind-bending and exhilarating reading.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:17 -0400)

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The Black Hole War is the thrilling story of what happened next -- a furious race to determind the truth that would end with the most mindbending conculsion of all.

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