Hawking was looking for a unified theory and Woit thinks the idea is pretty much discredited now: “We now live in an environment where the idea that there may be a deeper, more unified theory has become completely discredited, through the efforts of many, with Hawking playing an unfortunate part.”
Klinghoffer: “As Keating and Seife discuss, much of his fame, too, stemmed from efforts to disprove that God was needed either to account for the Big Bang that brought the universe into existence or to account for the physical laws that govern the cosmos.” Hawking’s celebrity made it really difficult to discuss those issues in a forum where both sides were fairly represented.
This is a far cry from Stephen Hawking’s famous denunciation of philosophy in 2011 as “dead” because it was out of step with theoretical physics.
Peter Woit on Hawking’s 2010 The Grand Design, co-written with Leonard Mlodinow: ” I wrote about this book in some detail here. Put bluntly, it was an atrocious rehash of the worst nonsense about M-theory and the string theory landscape, with an argument for atheism thrown in to get more public attention. This is the sort of thing that has done a huge amount of damage to both the public understanding of fundamental physics, and even to the field itself.”
Mathematician Kurt Gödel showed that there is an infinite number of truths that are provably unprovable. That’s bad news for scientism, though not for science.
Seife: Hawking managed to convince the public that his opinion always mattered. “[H]is comments attracted exaggerated attention even on topics where he had no special expertise,” wrote Martin Rees, a close friend and colleague of his, “for instance philosophy, or the dangers from aliens or from intelligent machines.” His overweening confidence—and his stubbornness—cost him respect from many of his colleagues, especially late in his career.
It is most unfortunate that both scientists themselves and the popular press discuss black holes (bh) as if they are (a) a scientifically defined object; and, (b) an experimentally observed one.
Rob Sheldon: 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.
Can’t help but make one wonder how much else in popular science literature is wrong but sells books.
At Quanta: After two years of sparring, the groups have traced their technical disagreement to differing beliefs about how nature works.
Regis Nicoll: Stephen Hawking had for many years considered the idea that “black holes are birthing centers for Star Trek phenomena like wormholes, time tunnels and multiple universes.” Then, in 2004, he turned on the idea.
Top People need a multiverse. The rewards go to those who can conjure one. Hawking did his best within the boundaries of science and is to be commended for going no further. We have heard and will hear plenty from those who show no such qualms.
That’s a common problem when we ask great figures their opinion about things they haven’t studied. From a review of Stephen Hawking’s (1942–2018) last book (or the last book that could be put together plausibly under his name), Brief Answers to the Big Questions: Because of the likelihood of a nuclear confrontation or an environmental catastrophe, Read More…
Quantum theory specifies that information is never lost but what happens to the information when a black hole vanishes? In the latest paper, Hawking (1942-2018) and his colleagues show how some information at least may be preserved. Toss an object into a black hole and the black hole’s temperature ought to change. So too will a Read More…