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“The Bad Boy Of Physics”, The Man Who Proved Stephen Hawking Wrong

 Leonard Susskind also known as “the bad boy of physics”- due to his own struggle of childhood rebellion and his history of disagreements with Stephen Hawking and several others- has ability for writing books that anybody can easily understand without needing any kind of degree in physics. “Classical Mechanics: The Theoretical Minimum”, his last book, was a bestseller in the United States. Leonard Susskind teaches everything required to gain a basic understanding of modern physics.

It was at Erhard’s residence in San Francisco in 1981 that Leonard Susskind and Stephen Hawking started their now notorious Black Hole War, which also turn out to be the title of Susskind’s subsequent book. Stephen Hawking made the spectacular claim that material which gets pulled into a black hole vanishes forever.

If right, it would mean that the basic laws of the universe would have to be entirely rewritten. But from the point of view of a quantum theorist, like Leonard Susskind, this was somewhat impossible: the main principle of quantum mechanics is that information can never be destroyed.

Leonard Susskind came home thinking about Hawking’s claim. Leonard Susskind says “I was trying to visualize the geometry of a black hole and the weather was so bad that the windshield was covered with frost. As the traffic slowed down, I drew the diagram on the frosted windshield with my finger. I was obsessed with it. I couldn't see how what he said was right. On the other hand I couldn't see anything wrong with it either.”

So the two dominating theories of physics – general relativity, which defines gravity, and quantum mechanics, which describes almost everything else – started a heated tussle. In the end Leonard Susskind succeeded to verify the information sucked into a black hole is actually conserved.

The two men, Leonard Susskind and Stephen Hawking, are friends and Susskind also had dinner at his house when he was last in Cambridge. Leonard Susskind said “We had a very, very nice conversation – meaning his daughter and woman friend, my wife and I had a nice conversation. Stephen was able to interject a sentence maybe five times during the evening. He is an extremely witty man. How he manages to keep himself sane with that kind of frustration is a marvel.”

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