Hawking nemesis Leonard Susskind speaks
Stanford University physicist Leonard Susskind went from a being a plumber in the South Bronx to becoming an authority on black holes.
In 'The Black Hole War,' Stanford University physicist Susskind recounts his long history of scientific conflict with famed cosmologist Stephen Hawking (whose concession letter he prints).
By John Johnson Jr., Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
July 26, 2008
For two decades, Stanford University physicist Leonard Susskind battled cosmologist Stephen Hawking over the behavior of black holes. Hawking said that when black holes eat their fill, they disappear, taking with them everything they consumed over their billions of years of existence. Susskind found this idea so disturbing that he publicly declared war -- a conflict he describes in his new book, "The Black Hole War." In a conversation before a recent appearance at the Los Angeles Public Library, Susskind recounted his long struggle to "make the world safe for quantum mechanics."
How did this war with Stephen Hawking come about?
I was a particle physicist when I was invited to an event at Werner Erhard's house in 1981. Erhard [founder of the est self-awareness movement] admired scientists and liked to listen to them debate. At one of his events, I met Stephen Hawking. Stephen discovered an amazing fact, which is that black holes evaporate. It's like a puddle of water out in the sun.