So says Ars Technica at Wired (August 1, 2011)
“Hawking used quantum theory to derive a result that was at odds with quantum theory,” as Nobel Laureate Gerard ‘t Hooft described the situation. Still, that wasn’t all bad; it created a paradox and “Paradoxes make physicists happy.”
“It was very hard to see what was wrong with what he was saying,” Susskind said, “and even harder to get Hawking to see what was wrong.”
The arguments apparently got very heated. Herman Verlinde, another physicist on the panel, described how there would often be silences when it was clear that Hawking had some thoughts on whatever was under discussion; these often ended when Hawking said “rubbish.” “When Hawking says ‘rubbish,’” he said, “you’ve lost the argument.”
Settles it then. Hawking is right.
What was missing from the discussion was an attempt to tackle one of the issues that plagues string theory: the math may all work out and it could provide a convenient way of looking at the world, but is it actually related to anything in the actual, physical Universe? Nobody even attempted to tackle that question. Still, the panel did a good job of describing how something that started as an attempt to handle a special case—the loss of matter into a black hole—could provide a new way of looking at the Universe. And, in the process, how people could eventually convince Stephen Hawking he got one wrong.
Which is all that matters. Rest.