Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Black holes, bright minds

posted by Chet at 6:52 PM UTC

The famous physicist Stephen Hawking was in Dublin today.

For decades he has had a running bet with theoretical physicist John Preskill about whether information that falls into a black hole is lost forever. Yes, maintained Hawking.

The mass of black holes will eventually leak out as quantum radiation, he discovered, but this random energy would contain no clue about what went into the hole in the first place.

Now Hawking finds this is not the case, and came to an international conference in Dublin to eat crow, washed down we hope with Guinness.

No point in going into the details, if for no other reason than that it's way over my head. The real story here is the willingness of scientists to admit mistakes when theory or experiment suggests a change.