The Black Hole War: My Battle with Stephen Hawking to Make the World Safe for Quantum Mechanics

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Little, Brown, Jul 7, 2008 - Science - 480 pages
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What happens when something is sucked into a black hole? Does it disappear? Three decades ago, a young physicist named Stephen Hawking claimed it did-and in doing so put at risk everything we know about physics and the fundamental laws of the universe. Most scientists didn't recognize the import of Hawking's claims, but Leonard Susskind and Gerard t'Hooft realized the threat, and responded with a counterattack that changed the course of physics. THE BLACK HOLE WAR is the thrilling story of their united effort to reconcile Hawking's revolutionary theories of black holes with their own sense of reality-effort that would eventually result in Hawking admitting he was wrong, paying up, and Susskind and t'Hooft realizing that our world is a hologram projected from the outer boundaries of space.
A brilliant book about modern physics, quantum mechanics, the fate of stars and the deep mysteries of black holes, Leonard Susskind's account of the Black Hole War is mind-bending and exhilarating reading.

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Clash of the Titans

User Review  - Joanna G, Merch - Borders

In his new book, "The Black Hole War: My Battle with Stephen Hawking to Make the World Safe for Quantum Mechanics," famed physicist Leonard Susskind recounts his decades long battle with Stephen ... Read full review

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A while ago I read an essay by Susskind and put this book on my to read list. If I had known it was going to be the single best explanation I have yet encountered on the nature of black holes and the information paradox, I would have bumped it to the top of the list.
If you are at all unclear about the following, this book is for you:
- What is Alices experience as she passes the event horizon?
- What is Bob's experience as he sees Alice enter the black hole?
- If they have contradictory experiences, can both be true?
- If so, how?
- Is the event horizon actually a storage area for information?
- If so, does that information get projected as matter (as the very reality we see around us), just like the eye projects an image in front of us?
- Is the whole universe a hologram?
Other authors have tackled these questions. Many have done well. I have to say that Susskind does very well.
There are few books more exciting, more mind-bending, or clearer than Susskind's Black Hole War. If you have this on your to read list, it's worth putting at the top. A+
This video covers some of what Susskind addresses in the book. It's a great accompaniment.
Here is an interesting article about how, depending on the manner in which information is stored on the horizon, time can run forward or backward in a black hole. In this article, they suggest that the black holes already know the past and future before it is even formed. In fact, they argue that black holes knows everything you, or anything else in the universe, will ever do. Fun to think about.
At the end of the day, Susskind thinks string theory is correct. I have no idea what will come of Hoagn's research (see article below), but he suggests string theory is incorrect and posits that there are discrete units of quantum space ("chunky space). I am not sure what that will mean for our understanding of black holes. But it's a very exciting time in physics. So many wonderful debates and discoveries.


The Gathering Storm
The First Shot
The Dark Star
Not Your Grandfathers Geometry
2 3
Planck Invents a Better Yardstick
In a Broadway
Skirmish at Aspen
The Battle of Santa Barbara
Wait Reverse the Rewiring
Ahab in Cambridge
The World as a Hologram
Weapon of Mass Deduction

Energy And Entropy
Wheelers Boys or How Much Information Can You Stuff in a Black Hole?
Surprise Attack
How Stephen Lost His Bits and Didnt Know Where to Find Them
The Dutch Resistance
Who Cares?
Alices Airplane or the Last Visible Propeller
Counting Black Holes
South America Wins the
Nuclear Physics? Youre Kidding

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About the author (2008)

Leonard Susskind is the Felix Bloch Professor in theoretical physics at Stanford University. He is the author of The Cosmic Landscape , The Black Hole War, and TheTheoretical Minimum: What You Need to Know to Start Doing Physics. Susskind is a member of the National Academy of Science and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the recipient of numerous prizes including the science writing prize of the American Institute of Physics for his Scientific American article on black holes.

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