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Cosmologists fight over winning universe lottery ticket

In “Does It Matter If Black Holes Are Popping into Existence around Us All the Time?” (Scientific American, July 16, 2012), George Musser reports

It may well have been the liveliest hour and a half I’ve ever spent in the company of theoretical physicists. In April, during a workshop I was attending on black holes, Bill Unruh gave a talk that challenged his colleagues on a point almost all of them thought had been settled in the mid-1980s. His colleagues challenged him back. The room throbbed with debate. At most conferences I’ve been to, one speaker presents his or her ideas, the next speaker presents his or her ideas, which might be exactly the opposite, nobody responds to what any else says, and nothing gets resolved. Everyone shuffles off to lunch, leaving onlookers not knowing what to think. Well, I still don’t know what to think of Unruh’s arguments, but it was invigorating to see great minds engage with one another.

It still sounds like a decline, compared to Einstein and Bohr. Like, what have we learned?

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