As quatro lições científicas que Stephen Hawking não aprendeu

quinta-feira, março 15, 2018

MAR 14, 2018 @ 10:16 AM

The 4 Scientific Lessons Stephen Hawking Never Learned

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Ethan Siegel, Contributor

In the 1960s, a young theoretical physicist named Stephen Hawking rose to prominence as a primary collaborator of Roger Penrose. By his mid-20s, he had proven a number of important theorems in General Relativity, and was a rising star when tragedy struck: he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). As his muscles weakened and his body betrayed him, he remarkably continued and extended his work, performing brilliant and detailed calculations using methods he himself uniquely devised. As he became wheelchair-bound and lost nearly all motor control, he made important developments in the physics of spacetime and the field of black holes, how they radiate and decay, and whether they lose or conserve information. His popular works like A Brief History Of Time inspired generations of scientists and science enthusiasts alike. Yet despite all his achievements, there were some major scientific lessons that he died having never learned. Even our heroes fall short of perfection.

Scientifically, what Hawking achieved was remarkable. He did more in the first decade of his career to further our knowledge of the Universe than most physicists achieve in a lifetime. His early work focused on singularity theorems, describing where the physics of the Universe breaks down in General Relativity. Hawking demonstrated that these conditions were physically important, and not mere mathematical curiosities. Black holes and other singular spacetimes contained them; Hawking helped categorize and describe them. He then tackled the event horizon, describing their area, temperature, and entropy, among other properties. He wrote about what happened under conditions where two event horizons merged. Most famously, he applied quantum field theory to the conditions around an event horizon, and found that black holes slowly evaporate through a process we now call Hawking radiation. By the mid-1970s, he was a titan of the field of astrophysics.