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Dana Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist for over 25 years and has covered the online world professionally since 1985. He founded the "Interactive Age Daily" for CMP Media, and has written for the Chicago Tribune, Advertising Age, and dozens of other publications over the years.
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July 16, 2004

Hawking Smashes More Barriers

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

One of the great things about science, as opposed to religion or ideology, is how ready science is to change its mind.

Of course, it's not science that changes its mind. It's scientists who change their minds, who admit they were wrong, and who then come up with new theories. That's how science progresses.

All this is prelude to the amazing news that Stephen Hawking no longer believes black holes violate quantum theory.

"A black hole only appears to form but later opens up and releases information about what fell inside. So we can be sure of the past and predict the future," is the way he is said to have explained it. Kind of like a cosmic tornado.

All will be revealed, with the appropriate mathematics, at the 17th International Conference on General Relativity and Gravitation in Dublin, Ireland next Wednesday.

Oh, and one more thing.

Most scientists slow down like athletes. One of the field's dirty little secrets is your great work usually happens before your 30th birthday and you spend the rest of your life milking it.

By the time Albert Einstein was 60, for instance (which was 1939), he had already moved to the U.S., gotten involved in politics, and was on his way toward becoming the beloved caricature we know and love from dozens of TV commercials. His great days in physics were well behind him. (The image is from a German translation of a Microsoft Encarta encyclopedia entry on a German educational site.)

Well, in addition to disproving the notion that physical disability is a real handicap, this latest from Hawking puts the lie to our notion of scientists aging as well. Because, as you can see from the picture, Dr. Hawking recently turned 60. And he's going stronger than ever.

I'd have to compare it to Martina Navratilova coming back to Wimbledon and actually winning the ladies' singles...10 years from now.

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