Hawking Cries Uncle

The famous physicist admits he was wrong about black holes--and pays off a long-standing wager

For days the scientific grapevine had been buzzing with the news that Stephen Hawking, the brilliant physicist whose disease has put him in a wheelchair, heir to the revered Cambridge professorship once held by Isaac Newton, would be making a big announcement at a conference in Dublin, Ireland. Sure enough, last week before an array of TV cameras and hundreds of colleagues at the ordinarily obscure International Conference of General Relativity and Gravitation, Hawking declared that he had solved what he called "a major problem in theoretical physics." Black holes, he said, do not forever annihilate all traces of what falls...

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