Black Hole Battles

lenny susskind, kc coleSomehow, I only learned about this today, and it is already standby tickets only, but you never know. If you’re in LA and interested in a different kind of conversation, consider taking in the event (part of the Aloud series) at the downtown Los Angeles Central Library tomorrow night at 7:00pm. It’s between two friends and colleagues of mine, the science writer K C Cole and the scientist Lenny Susskind! The event is entitled, “The Black Hole War: My Battle with Stephen Hawking to Make the World Safe for Quantum Mechanics”, and presumably will be about Lenny’s reflections on some of the exciting squabbles over various important issues in black hole physics that took place (and still take place) in our field of physics. The above turns out to be (I just learned from a Google search) the title of a book he’s written, so you might be interested in it for your Summer (or other) reading.

Some of you may recall her really great conversation with Alan Alda that took place at USC earlier this year. I reported on it here. K C tends to run these sorts of conversations extremely well (being well versed in her subjects from years of writing about them in her excellent popular books), and so combined with the fact that Lenny is such an insightful physicist and excellent speaker, it will be worth going.

The link to the event details is here.

I can’t make it since I’m hiding in Aspen, but if you go I hope you enjoy it, and maybe even come here and tell us what you thought!


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6 Responses to Black Hole Battles

  1. IG says:

    Sorry Clifford, but now everybody knows you do not read other blogs (Woit and Motl for example) that mentioned this book about one month ago. Lucky you who dedicates more attention to pertinent things like research.

    I already got a copy but haven’t started yet since I’ve been reading Susskind’s previous book on the Landscape.

  2. Clifford says:


    Goodness me, it’s definitely not a secret that I don’t read those blogs. I’ve said that here several times. I thought it was common knowledge. Abysmal signal to noise ratio issues, rampant ignorance, deliberate distortions, outright lies, general unpleasantness, lack of time, and so forth. Frankly, I’ve too many more useful and pleasant things to do.

    There are several others I don’t read too, for other reasons, and again time. That’s just where I am right now, I guess. Loving it.

    Thanks for looking in. Enjoy the books!



  3. nige cook says:

    Hi Clifford,

    Maybe you are being just a little harsh on those blogs about the problems of ‘… deliberate distortions, outright lies, general unpleasantness, lack of time …’

    K. C. Cole argues to the contrary, although I’m not sure if this science writing advice extends from print media journalism down to science blogs or not (maybe she only suggests it for print media and TV presentations):

    ‘Really good science writers need to lie, cheat, and steal, said K. C. Cole in the first plenary of the workshop. She outlined 15 rules for writing in her talk, but focused most on the value of lying. …

    ‘Her list of 15 rules also included such advice as waste people’s time (“Don’t be afraid to keep asking questions until you understand”), eschew objectivity, and quote out of context (“Quotes are always out of context”).’

    – Elise Kleeman, Opening talk by K.C. Cole, Los Angeles Times,

    Hopefully I’m quoting her out of context, like a good science writer (according to the 15 rules). 🙂

  4. Plato says:

    All of physics as we know it is conditioned on the fact that information is conserved, even if it’s badly scrambled,” Susskind says.

    Maybe you can expand on this later in terms of the blackhole?

    I guess this is the unfortunate part of being in a small town, but nice that one can access that talk later on?

    I must say it was a “culture shock” being in LA the last week of June. First time, and unfortunately we did not to get to visit some of places that you have blogged about. We will next time. Never seen so much smoke.

  5. Clifford says:

    smoke? Was it during one of the big fires? Sorry to hear about the timing.

    I think Susskind was simply saying that the black hole scrambles the information a lot, but it eventually comes out, even if you have to look carefully and wait a long time to recover it.



  6. Plato says:

    It was around the 23 June in the Mendocino area

    It was very beautiful in these areas.