Archive for February 5, 2014

Was it right to drop Pietersen?

Posted in Cricket with tags , , on February 5, 2014 by telescoper

Big sporting news this morning was the decision by a panel representing the  England and Wales Cricket Board to part company with Kevin Pietersen.   In his Test career Pietersen has scored 8,181 runs at an average of 47 in 104 Tests, which is pretty outstanding – certainly compared with other current England batsmen. And at 33 he’s probably still got a few years of international cricket in him. Can England really afford to cast him aside just because some of his team-mates find him a bit difficult?

I’m perfectly well aware that Pietersen is not the kind of player who always puts the team first, and being such a maverick he must be a very frustrating player to captain, but he is clearly also a prodigiously talented batsmen. It’s true that he didn’t play well in Australia, but then who did (other than Ben Stokes)? In fact Pietersen averaged better with the bat than his Captain, so you could argue that it’s Alastair Cook who should be dropped if the problem is between the two of them (as some have suggested).

And then there’s the fact that – love them or hate them – it’s players like KP who are the crowd-pullers. It’s never just been about the ability to play the game. People like to see larger-than-life characters in sport.

Anyway, I know that opinions differ  on this issue so I thought I’d try a quite poll:

Did Hawking Say “There Are No Black Holes”?

Posted in Astrohype, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , on February 5, 2014 by telescoper

Last week there was a rather tedious flurry of media activity about Stephen Hawking’s alleged claim that there are no black holes after all. Here’s a nice blog post explaining what Hawking actually said. Also, check out the link at the start of this article to a very nice layperson’s guide to the Black Hole Information Paradox.

Of Particular Significance

Media absurdity has reached new levels of darkness with the announcement that Stephen Hawking has a new theory in which black holes do not exist after all.

No, he doesn’t.

[Note added: click here for my new introduction to the black hole information paradox.]

First, Hawking does not have a new theory… at least not one he’s presented. You can look at his paper here — two pages (pdf), a short commentary that he gave to experts in August 2013 and wrote up as a little document — and you can see it has no equations at all. That means it doesn’t qualify as a theory. “Theory”, in physics, means: a set of equations that can be used to make predictions for physical processes in a real or imaginary world. When we talk about Einstein’s theory of relativity, we’re talking about equations. Compare just the look and…

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