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Sabine Hossenfelder asks, Should Stephen Hawking have won the Nobel? Rob Sheldon weighs in

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Hossenfelder thinks he should have:

Before he worked on black hole evaporation, Hawking worked with Penrose on the singularity theorems. Penrose’s theorem showed that, in contrast to what most physicists believed at the time, black holes are a pretty much unavoidable consequence of stellar collapse. Before that, physicists thought black holes are mathematical curiosities that would not be produced in reality. It was only because of the singularity theorems that black holes began to be taken seriously. Eventually astronomers looked for them, and now we have solid experimental evidence that black holes exist. Hawking applied the same method to the early universe to show that the Big Bang singularity is likewise unavoidable, unless General Relativity somehow breaks down. And that is an absolutely amazing insight about the origin of our universe.

I made a video about the history of black holes two years ago in which I said that the singularity theorems are worth a Nobel Prize. And indeed, Penrose was one of the recipients of the 2020 Nobel Prize in physics. If Hawking had not died two years earlier, I believe he would have won the Nobel Prize together with Penrose. Or maybe the Nobel Prize committee just waited for him to die, so they wouldn’t have to think about just how to disentangle Hawking’s work from Penrose’s? We’ll never know.

Sabine Hossenfelder, “Should Stephen Hawking have won the Nobel Prize?” at BackRe(Action)

Meanwhile, our physics commentator Rob Sheldon offers,

Sabine’s take was that the 2020 Nobel prize for Black Hole theorizing was given to Penrose, but had Hawking been alive, he would have shared it. I mentioned at the time that the other two recipients were experimentalists who measured the gravitational attraction of the Sagittarius A* attractor in the middle of the Milky Way. All this 2020 prize was belated, because an earlier Nobel prize was given for Gravity Waves, which were modelled as orbiting black holes. It seemed odd to have a Nobel for discovery of waves given off by BH without a Nobel for BH themselves, hence the 2020 award.

Hawking did not get the Nobel, however, because he hung his hopes on the radiation emitted by BH–the so-called “Hawking radiation”. And it was never observed. Sabine tries to explain why. But one argument that Sabine doesn’t make, is that Hawking radiation may never have been observed because BH are themselves never observed. Yes, there’s something massive in the center of the Milky Way galaxy and other observed galaxies, but it doesn’t have to be a BH. And the lack of Hawking radiation anywhere in the universe may be because there are no BH anywhere in the universe. Stan Robertson showed me alternative solutions to the Einstein gravitational equations that explain all the astronomical phenomena without any BH event horizons or Hawking radiation. It just requires the existence of that nemesis of astrophysicists–a magnetic field.

The Long Ascent, Volume 2

Now that the Event Horizon telescope reports magnetic fields in their famous “Black Hole photograph”, and a paper was published last week saying magnetic fields could explain Dark Energy, the time may be right to advertise the demise of black holes. Stan calls them MECO, but I’ve grown attached to “blue holes”–because it has the same acronym, and because artists always draw magnetic fields with blue shading.

So should Hawking have received the Nobel prize?

Sabine says he didn’t have to, he’s already famous in his own right. Which is an admission that the purpose the Nobel has always been about publicity. The rest of us will get our reward in heaven.

Rob Sheldon is the author of Genesis: The Long Ascent and The Long Ascent, Volume II.

4 Replies to “Sabine Hossenfelder asks, Should Stephen Hawking have won the Nobel? Rob Sheldon weighs in

  1. 1
    BobRyan says:

    Things that are not observed should remain hypothetical until proven or disproven. Hawking should not have gotten a Nobel for something he could not prove. Evolution has never been observed, which means it should not be classified as a theory. A theory requires observation and duplication, which has never happened with Darwin.

  2. 2
    polistra says:

    There’s no point in arguing about couldas and shouldas when it comes to Nobels. Everyone knows the process is totally corrupt and corrupting.

  3. 3
    AaronS1978 says:

    Yeah wasn’t BML nominated for a Nobel peace prize

    Like I don’t care what you support but that group is violent and caused well over several hundred million dollars of damage and killed people

    David Dorn for example

    But they were nominated for a Nobel peace prize

    So I have zero respect for that award

  4. 4
    Steve Alten2 says:

    Nobel peace prizes are almost always political in nature. But science prizes are less so, but not exempt.

    Nobels for science should be awarded to people who stimulate significant further research, even if their own research is eventually found to be wrong.

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