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The Black Hole War: My Battle with Stephen Hawking to Make the World Safe for Quantum Mechanics by [Susskind, Leonard]
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The Black Hole War: My Battle with Stephen Hawking to Make the World Safe for Quantum Mechanics Kindle Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Length: 481 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Review

'Entertaining...both lucid and enjoyable....Like the best teachers, Susskind makes it fun to learn. With a deft use of analogy and a flair for language, he tames the most ferocious concepts....He has come up with the best visual metaphor for the multidimensinality of string theory that I've yet come across, one that alone is worth the price of the book' - Los Angeles Times
'Susskind is very down to earth, an easy-going and entertaining guide through the most exciting frontiers of theoretical physics' - New Scientist

Book Description

The father of string theory recounts his paradigm-shifting debate with Stephen Hawking over the nature of black holes.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2819 KB
  • Print Length: 481 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (7 July 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00FOR2J76
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #132,643 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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4.6 out of 5 stars
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Susskind describes the decades-long battle between the quantum mechanics community and the general relativists as to whether information is lost when objects pass through the event horizon of a black hole and the hole eventually evaporates. According to Prof. Hawking and the GR community, as nothing can ever reappear from inside an event horizon, the information is indeed totally lost.

Susskind and Gerard 't Hooft begged to differ. Loss of information would violate the basic time-reversibility of QM: Hawking's ideas would lead to universe-destroying phenomena (p. 23). Somehow, the information locked the wrong side of the event horizon must leak out via Hawking radiation. But how?

The resolution of this dilemma took many years of conjectures and refutations. Susskind takes us on a tour of entropy, holographic principles and physics at the Planck scale. And the adversarial plot keeps the reader turning the pages.

I am normally very dubious about popularisations. They proceed by raking up endless analogies which never quite fit together, so that by the end of the book, your mind is like that jig-saw puzzle you bought and could never fit together.

This book was never going to be the exception - the mathematics of quantum field theory, general relativity and string theory are just too arcane for popular culture concepts to cohere around. However, there are wonderful insights all the way through this book and we do end up learning something about the large scale map of the territory. Apparently even the experts find it hard to get the whole thing into one focus.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is one of my favourite books. It manages to teach cutting edge science but is also funny and entertaining.
Leonard Susskind admires Stephen Hawking's ground breaking work on Black Holes but is surprised when Hawking says that information is lost. He feels instinctively it can't be right even though most physicists seem to agree with Hawking. So Susskind starts to search for the truth. Many other scientists become involved and its a fascinating story.

I must say being a layman whose interested in science this is the most accessible book I've read on the subject. I also bought the audio cds to help me understand the science better and they were first rate.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a story about a disagreement about information loss in black holes. Stephen Hawking insisted that information about anything that falls into a black hole is lost forever; the author - Leonard Susskind - disagreed.

The black hole war lasted many years and author Susskind tells the tale. On the way we learn much about physics in general and about the physics of black holes in particular. The story encompasses Einstein's relativity, quantum physics, the holographic principle, string theory and many other areas of modern physics.

The author writes well and it's an entertaining read; possibly one of my favourite popular science books. The physics is explained well, mainly without resorting to mathematics (although there are one or two equations in the book), but be prepared for some mind-bending concepts.

I really enjoyed this book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a really excellent book, Susskind patiently explains his theory as it takes shape over years, and in terms a layman can understand. I was left, entertained as well as knowing far more about the nature of our universe. Science really is more exciting than fiction, and Susskind really can explain his subject in the simplest of terms.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The author has the rare gift of being able to explain front line physics simply and entertainingly. I feel that I learned a lot about elementry particleas and black holes without having to go through any maths. The holographic principle is a weirdly appealing idea, and it is fascinating to read about the thought processess and human interaction that lead to its discovery.

I was drawn to this book by the lectures by the author Leonard Susskind on youtube about various physics topics. If you are into this kind of stuff, check them out!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Great read if you are interested in this kind of thing. This gives a personal account of what was happening in the world of physics in the 70's and after as well as explaining the physics itself. This added interest for me. Easy to read style which, for the most part is well written as well. Not all the concepts described are all that easy to understand though.
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Format: Paperback
This is an interesting and readable book. Susskind sure-footedly guides the reader through a labyrinth of modern physics, presenting increasingly complex and cutting-edge ideas in a non-mathematical way, and illustrating them with a plethora of thought-provoking analogies. I read the book quickly - for the most part the story is compellingly told - and ended it much better informed about, not only black holes, but also the ways in which theoretical physicists think and behave.

Although I would thoroughly recommend this book I do have some quibbles, principally about the narrative style. The grandiose title catches the eye but presenting this conflict of ideas as a 'war', scientists as 'foot soldiers' and so on becomes irritating. For Susskind, however, this seems almost to have been a conflict of good versus evil. He and his fellow free-thinking scientists (interestingly, almost exclusively from the 'new world') are painted as heroic figures battling against the reactionary (old world) forces of Svengali-like Stephen Hawking. Although Susskind acknowledges Hawking's profound influence on his work, his portrayal of him is almost unremittingly unflattering. This depiction is at odds with Hawking's clearly pivotal role in the debate. Just how his work managed to keep the argument live for so many years is unexplained - a major hole in the story as told.
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