Interview with Prof. Daksh Lohiya, Former Student of Stephen Hawking

Professor Daksh Lohiya is an Emeritus Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Cambridge. He is a student of Dr. Stephen Hawking and Gary Gibbons.

Born in 1951, Prof.Daksh works on high-energy physics and gravitation.

Being a student of the renowned theoretical physicist Dr. Stephen Hawking, this interview explores his experience with Hawking along with various other great scientists including Carl Sagan, Leonard Susskind, Michael Atiyah, and the noble prize winner Dr.Roger Penrose.

Prof. Daksh, in this interview, explores his first encounter with Stephen Hawking and recounts his experience.

Live and exclusive from Cambridge University ’ February ‘2020

Shounak: What was your first reaction when you saw Stephen Hawking?

Prof. Daksh: As soon as I entered his room, his secretary first stood between me and him, and maybe she is asking for the right view. I told her that I know her conditions. After that what I saw shocked me… I saw just a heap of clothes and his headline. I was not prepared for this. After that Jane walked in

Shounak: Was Dr. Hawking able to speak during that time?

Prof. Daksh: Well, he was but there was a certain lisp and a slur. Only after some time, one could understand him

Shounak: What was your work that attracted the attention of Stephen Hawking?

Prof.Daksh: There was a paper which I had written in 1974 and was completed in 1976 as my teacher could not understand. I sent it to Physical Review. After that, I received a letter that my article has been accepted by Stephen Hawking and Gary Gibbons which yield the same result. So, they sent my article to Stephen Hawking for refereeing. The article that I wrote is ‘how we define vacuum in Quantum Field theory depends on some of our basic functions. It largely depends on the topology, the size of the apparatus. We can switch the time if the universe is expanding. I applied it to the universe, which Hawking would have applied to the black hole.

Shounak: So you have been also working with Gary Gibbons?

Prof.Daksh: Yes, from 1978 to 1982 I kept traveling.

Shounak: How Dr.Hawking functions with his entire body?

Prof.Daksh: Well, he has to be fed in by an assistant. When he eats his head slants down and someone has to hold his head. He cannot swallow for his muscle problems.

Shounak: Is Hawking radiation experimentally provable?

Prof.Daksh: It is difficult as the conditions are extreme. Until we have a radiation bath at a very high temperature, you can have a finite amplitude of a virtual black hole. You can have a condition where the photon is absorbed by a black hole and positron is emitted, the charge is preserved but the baryon number will be violated. In such a process, the probability would be damped by the exponential of minus the action of the black hole which is very large. So, the probability is very small. This could be an indicator.

Shounak: Are these mere observations that we do?

Prof.Daksh: Well, look as you see we are fitting observations. We have the grand empirical data, trying to give something fundamental to it, packaged in a grand manner. So, you have some data, the initial conditions of force and then you try to fit in.

Shounak: Was the ‘no boundary proposal’ the last proposal which Dr.Hawking proposed?

Prof.Daksh: No. It was already there. The ‘information paradox’ was the key. Well, it was a crazy paradox but nobody could prove it. Stephen was under huge pressure and he was severely criticized because, in String Theory, people have discovered some solutions, there are distribution constructs that have similar behavior but it has nothing to do with the actual 4 dimensions of black holes that you have in general relativity.

You can see actually what the entropy is related to and there is no loss of unitarity there.

In 2005, at a conference in Dublin, Stephen came out with proof that he was wrong!

But as soon as we saw the paper, we, four and five sat together and showed him that he was wrong, the proof has loopholes. So, the problem is still open. He just unnecessarily gave up too early. So, it is a ‘paradox.’ What is classicality? So, in physics, there is actually nothing as ‘classical’, it is ‘quantum field theory.’ There is no consensus on this issue, hence the ‘Hawking paradox’ would lie as once you settle on what is classical physics.

Listen to the live interview 

Shounak: How popular science books are destroying real science?

Prof.Daksh: Yes it does. Until you do real mathematics, you cannot understand science. It is all just a wrong concept. I was reading through an article in ‘Nature’ and talking to Michael Atiyah about a stupid article entitled: ‘Soliton model for memory’. Now soliton has a definite meaning and there is a definite mathematical structure. But there is a play of words. Now, dissipation also has a mathematical connotation, while in the normal language it has a different meaning. Now as soliton does not dissipate so memory also does not dissipate. Now, this is crazy! Stupid! Michael Atiyah frowned at me and I told them that it is just a play of words.

He smiled and said: “I thought, all physics was that.”

Shounak: Have you met Carl Sagan?

Prof.Daksh: Yes. He is a great photographer. He has nothing to do with science specifically. Sometimes he speaks of bird, then flower and then sky……..There is no coherence…..

Shounak: What about Prof.Leonard Susskind?

Prof.Daksh: Well, he is a great teacher but a very angry person.

Shounak: Oh really?

Prof.Daksh: Yes.

Shounak: What about Dr.Roger Penrose?

Prof.Daksh: He is a real delight to hear. He is a real dreamer, a visionary. You know, I will tell you he has more to contribute in a black hole and singularity theorem, more than Hawking. He is solid, really solid. His contribution is much more significant in the philosophy of physics.

Shounak: Are you still in touch with Jane Hawking?

Prof.Daksh: Yes. Oh! She is such a wonderful person.

Shounak: Thank you, sir. Thank you for your time, that you gave me.

Prof.Daksh: Same here. You can send me questions, specific questions, and next time when we will meet, I can answer your questions.

Shounak: Fine sir. Thank you very much.


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