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

Published By: Little, Brown and Company

Book Category: Non-Fiction, Science

Buy From Amazon

Reviewed by Patty Inglish, MS

Leonard Susskind is a famous name, that of the Felix Bloch Professor of Physics at Stanford University, where he researches particle physics, string theory, and ultimately, the origins and operations of the universe.

The Black Hole War purports to be an account of the 20-year debate between Leonard Susskind and the renowned Stephen Hawking. For years, Hawking stated that as anything (“information”) goes into a black hole, it permanently disappears. However, this goes against the law that matter and energy are neither created nor destroyed, but shift between the two states. Susskind took issue, believing otherwise, but also attaching himself to Hawking by means of a 20-year argument. Dr. Hawking’s description of the effects of informations passing through a black hole have changed somewhat, with Dr. Susskind proclaiming this a victory.

Susskind discusses the fundamentals of his material entertainingly and clearly with neat diagrams that catch the eye. He also outlines the long-term debate with Hawking, writing that it has been friendly and interesting. Somehow, this leaves me a bit cold from the beginning of the book.

Early in the first pages, the author writes about how the world misunderstands physicists such as himself and claims that they are “fun,” with good personalities. He later includes parody songs some have written, and descriptions of their parties. This all seems out of place. So too, do the pronouncements early on that the worldwide discussion of Darwinism vs. Intelligent Design and of theories on both sides of the Global Warming debate are not scientific at all. I wondered what he meant, until several pages later he described the Mormon denomination at some length and proclaimed it laughable, as is anyone’s faith, in his opinion.

This book is a scientific work written in such a way that much of the general population will enjoy it. However, the axe grinding and soapbox in other matters could be eliminated and result in an even more enjoyable volume.

Anyone interested in particle physics, the universe, and humor will be delighted with this book, when taking the other material with a particle of salt.

Armchair Interviews agrees.

Voted one of the 101 Best Websites For Writers in 2006, 2007, 2008 & 2009