In Depth

Stephen Hawking, betting man

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Science  23 Mar 2018:
Vol. 359, Issue 6382, pp. 1317
DOI: 10.1126/science.359.6382.1317

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Summary

Famously playful, Stephen Hawking left a trail of light-hearted bets about serious scientific questions. In the best known, Hawking wagered that information falling into a black hole is lost forever; he later changed his mind and conceded the bet. That wasn't his first loss. In his first high-profile bet, in the early 1970s, he claimed that black holes themselves—the subject of so much of his life's work—did not exist. He went on to wager against the existence of cosmological entities called naked singularities as well as the famed Higgs boson. He lost all of these apart from one, which remains unresolved.