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Prof. Stephen Hawking: Great Scientist, Bad Gambler

timothy posted about a year ago | from the maybe-he's-still-placing-the-bet dept.

Space 231

astroengine writes "World-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has announced that he was likely wrong about his view that the Higgs boson doesn't exist — an outcome he doesn't find very exciting — conceding that he lost a $100 wager. Speaking at the Beckman Auditorium in Caltech, Pasadena, Calif., on Tuesday (April 16), the British physicist gave a public lecture on 'The Origins of the Universe,' summarizing new revelations in modern astrophysics and cosmology. After the lecture, Caltech physicist and colleague John Preskill commented on Hawking's fondness for placing bets when faced with conflicts of physics ideas. Hawking lost a famous wager to Preskill in 2004 in a debate over whether or not black holes destroy information (theory suggests they do not, opposing Hawking's argument). 'To love Stephen Hawking is to not always agree with Stephen Hawking,' Preskill quipped. 'He's usually right, but he's not always right. Sometimes we haven't been able to resolve our differences and we've resorted to making bets it's sad to say that although Stephen Hawking is without doubt a great scientist, he's a bad gambler.'"

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It's OK (3, Funny)

aglider (2435074) | about a year ago | (#43481757)

As long as it goes to science advancements!

Re:It's OK (4, Interesting)

Joce640k (829181) | about a year ago | (#43481867)

Maybe he plays to lose just to goad the other guy into finishing his research.

Re:It's OK (5, Informative)

Brucelet (1857158) | about a year ago | (#43482125)

Actually my recollection is that he often deliberately bets against his favored hypotheses so that in case he's wrong he still gets some reward. Hedging his bets with the universe, as it were.

Re:It's OK (5, Informative)

alendit (1454311) | about a year ago | (#43482447)

From "A Brief History of Time":

"This was a form of insurance policy for me. I have done a lot of work on black holes, and it would all be wasted if it turned out that black holes do not exist. But in that case, I would have the consolation of winning my bet, which would win me four years of the magazine Private Eye. If black holes do exist, Kip will get one year of Penthouse. When we made the bet in 1975, we were 80% certain that Cygnus was a black hole. By now, I would say that we are about 95% certain, but the bet has yet to be settled."

Re:It's OK (1)

lorenlal (164133) | about a year ago | (#43482137)

That wouldn't surprise me.

He even made a bet saying that black holes didn't exist. It was a hedge because it would've blown up a bunch of his own research if he had won. I rather enjoy that he doesn't take himself too seriously when it comes to these bets.

Re:It's OK (1)

gman003 (1693318) | about a year ago | (#43482339)

He actually tends to bet *against* what he thinks the more interesting possibility is. That way, either he wins the bet, or he has some exciting new science going on. He wins either way.

Re:It's OK (1, Interesting)

wmac1 (2478314) | about a year ago | (#43482043)

He also has a view that God does not exist.

Re:It's OK (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43482089)

Which one, the one who promotes incest, polygamy and adultery, brainwashes and kills innocent children, and compels people to pray instead of taking action? Or Muhammed?
Yeah you can keep your gods.

Re:It's OK (1)

kilfarsnar (561956) | about a year ago | (#43482111)

Are those my only two choices? Can't I have a god that's nice to people?

Re:It's OK (1)

ComaVN (325750) | about a year ago | (#43482327)

Can't I have a god that's nice to people?

Seriously, which one would that be?

Re:It's OK (1)

Noughmad (1044096) | about a year ago | (#43482395)

Gods were invented* for keeping the population in place. Gods that are nice to people are not really good for this.

*: This is, in my opinion, most likely not true. I believe that gods were invented because people did not know how to explain natural phenomena. (e. g. "Why does the Sun rise every day?" "Someone carries it"). However, they quickly became used as justification of power.

Re:It's OK (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43483149)

Some day we will be gods. At some point we will create a micro universe that to us will expand and collapse in a split seconds or less. In that time whole galaxies will form as the universe expands around it stars will be created emitting great light to which they will collapse and breed new stars and black holes sucking at the outer edges for which nothing should return. Perhaps perchance in those millions of galaxies which must relatively seem infinite there will be a plant or planets that will be infected with a virus that will grow as it's star burns brighter and burns out blinking into an existence no one remembers or even cares about. Time will roll on and maybe another planet will become infected just in time to see the last suns lights burn dim and the truth of the last black hole created. Everything will be sucked in and collapse as all mass is sequentially sucked back together into a debilitating small area only to collapse into finality and never to have existed outside of observations by us. The gods, who created worlds, cities, people, places, and who never had the chance to help the weak, had people curse us, kill for us, love us and die for us. All never knowing that we couldn't possibly do anything to help them nor could we do anything to save them, because we never even knew they existed in a bubble so small and insignificant.

We will be the gods that will watch a universe come and go and then go for coffee and talk about our own gods, and how childish it is to believe or not to believe.

Re:It's OK (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43482553)

God can be omniscient, omnipotent, or omnibenevolent: Select two, in order to have what most people see as God.

If he's all three, there's a paradox of an omnibenevolent God who wants the best for everyone, yet for some reason allows suffering and evil.

Rather than "We need those so we understand Good and Happiness" or whatever, I point out that God is omnipotent, and therefore could simply allow us to understand how good we have it without needing the suffering. If he didn't think of this, then he's not omniscient. If he can't do it, he's not omnipotent, and if he doesn't want to, he's not omnibenevolent.

Given the behavior assigned to God in the Old Testament and the overlap of omnipotence and omniscience, I suspect the explanation is a lack of omnibenevolence. (Were I omniscient, I would know how to make myself omnipotent. Were I omnipotent, I could simply will myself to be omniscient. Neither of those prescribe morality, however.)

I'd love to hear about alternatives that make logical sense.

Re:It's OK (4, Insightful)

tnk1 (899206) | about a year ago | (#43482965)

The Problem of Evil is only really a problem in the sense that you or I would not be able to understand how the world could exist in such a way, but still have both the best possible outcome, and also allow free will.

The fact that humans don't understand something, however, is simply a statement of our own ignorance, and not so much an actual indictment of the idea of an all powerful, all knowing, all benevolent entity. Needless to say, having all the knowledge and all the power would probably provide an understanding of the best possible scenario that we would probably not have any conception of at our level of understanding.

In short, you're assuming you know what true omniscience, omnipotence, and omnibenevolence looks like. Logic would indicate that actually, you'd need those characteristics to really make a judgement. We still don't even understand things that should be much easier to understand like Quantum Gravity, for instance, but we feel qualified to pronounce on omniscience? I just don't see how that follows.

Re:It's OK (1)

al.caughey (1426989) | about a year ago | (#43482343)


Re:It's OK (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about a year ago | (#43482229)

When you use the term God, you give definite name and conceptualization to it that is statistically impossible to be correct. It is therefore not a view, but a fact that the God to whom/which you refer does not exist.

Re:It's OK (1)

tnk1 (899206) | about a year ago | (#43483123)

I would very much like to see a valid scientific experiment that proves that a Creator entity is statistically impossible. Then I would like to see your solution of some nagging physics problems that I have been having trouble with... like Quantum Gravity and the Theory of Everything.

Re:It's OK (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about a year ago | (#43483593)

I made no such claim. The statement I made is that if there is a creator it does not exist as conceived by you (or me, or Christians, or Muslims, etc.).

Re:It's OK (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about a year ago | (#43482341)

He also has a view that God does not exist.

Did he wager $100 on that, too? From the article, he is wrong more often than he is right.

He bet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43481761)

Be bet he could beat me in a 50 meter race and lost that bet as well.

His wheelchair uses my HOST file... apk (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43481765)

A corrupt slashdot luser has pentrated the moderation system to downmod all my posts while impersonating me.

Nearly 230++ times that I know of @ this point for all of March/April 2013 so far, & others here have told you to stop - take the hint, lunatic (leave slashdot)...

Sorry folks - but whoever the nutjob is that's attempting to impersonate me, & upset the rest of you as well, has SERIOUS mental issues, no questions asked! I must've gotten the better of him + seriously "gotten his goat" in doing so in a technical debate & his "geek angst" @ losing to me has him doing the:


A.) $10,000 challenges, ala (where the imposter actually TRACKED + LISTED the # of times he's done this no less, & where I get the 230 or so times I noted above) -> []


B.) Reposting OLD + possibly altered models - (this I haven't checked on as to altering the veracity of the info. being changed) of posts of mine from the past here


(Albeit massively repeatedly thru all threads on /. this March/April 2013 nearly in its entirety thusfar).

* Personally, I'm surprised the moderation staff here hasn't just "blocked out" his network range yet honestly!

(They know it's NOT the same as my own as well, especially after THIS post of mine, which they CAN see the IP range I am coming out of to compare with the ac spamming troll doing the above...).


P.S.=> Again/Stressing it: NO guys - it is NOT me doing it, as I wouldn't waste that much time on such trivial b.s. like a kid might...

Plus, I only post where hosts file usage is on topic or appropriate for a solution & certainly NOT IN EVERY POST ON SLASHDOT (like the nutcase trying to "impersonate me" is doing for nearly all of March/April now, & 230++ times that I know of @ least)... apk

P.S.=> here is CORRECT host file information just to piss off the insane lunatic troll:


21++ ADVANTAGES OF CUSTOM HOSTS FILES (how/what/when/where/why):

Over AdBlock & DNS Servers ALONE 4 Security, Speed, Reliability, & Anonymity (to an extent vs. DNSBL's + DNS request logs).

1.) HOSTS files are useable for all these purposes because they are present on all Operating Systems that have a BSD based IP stack (even ANDROID) and do adblocking for ANY webbrowser, email program, etc. (any webbound program). A truly "multi-platform" UNIVERSAL solution for added speed, security, reliability, & even anonymity to an extent (vs. DNS request logs + DNSBL's you feel are unjust hosts get you past/around).

2.) Adblock blocks ads? Well, not anymore & certainly not as well by default, apparently, lol - see below:

Adblock Plus To Offer 'Acceptable Ads' Option [] )

AND, in only browsers & their subprogram families (ala email like Thunderbird for FireFox/Mozilla products (use same gecko & xulrunner engines)), but not all, or, all independent email clients, like Outlook, Outlook Express, OR Window "LIVE" mail (for example(s)) - there's many more like EUDORA & others I've used over time that AdBlock just DOES NOT COVER... period.

Disclaimer: Opera now also has an AdBlock addon (now that Opera has addons above widgets), but I am not certain the same people make it as they do for FF or Chrome etc..

3.) Adblock doesn't protect email programs external to FF (non-mozilla/gecko engine based) family based wares, So AdBlock doesn't protect email programs like Outlook, Outlook Express, Windows "LIVE" mail & others like them (EUDORA etc./et al), Hosts files do. THIS IS GOOD VS. SPAM MAIL or MAILS THAT BEAR MALICIOUS SCRIPT, or, THAT POINT TO MALICIOUS SCRIPT VIA URLS etc.

4.) Adblock won't get you to your favorite sites if a DNS server goes down or is DNS-poisoned, hosts will (this leads to points 5-7 next below).

5.) Adblock doesn't allow you to hardcode in your favorite websites into it so you don't make DNS server calls and so you can avoid tracking by DNS request logs, OR make you reach them faster since you resolve host-domain names LOCALLY w/ hosts out of cached memory, hosts do ALL of those things (DNS servers are also being abused by the Chinese lately and by the Kaminsky flaw -> [] for years now). Hosts protect against those problems via hardcodes of your fav sites (you should verify against the TLD that does nothing but cache IPAddress-to-domainname/hostname resolutions ( via NSLOOKUP, PINGS (ping -a in Windows), &/or WHOIS though, regularly, so you have the correct IP & it's current)).

* NOW - Some folks MAY think that putting an IP address alone into your browser's address bar will be enough, so why bother with HOSTS, right? WRONG - Putting IP address in your browser won't always work IS WHY. Some IP adresses host several domains & need the site name to give you the right page you're after is why. So for some sites only the HOSTS file option will work!

6.) Hosts files don't eat up CPU cycles (or ELECTRICITY) like AdBlock does while it parses a webpages' content, nor as much as a DNS server does while it runs. HOSTS file are merely a FILTER for the kernel mode/PnP TCP/IP subsystem, which runs FAR FASTER & MORE EFFICIENTLY than any ring 3/rpl3/usermode app can since hosts files run in MORE EFFICIENT & FASTER Ring 0/RPL 0/Kernelmode operations acting merely as a filter for the IP stack (via the "Plug-N-Play" designed IP stack in Windows) vs. SLOWER & LESS EFFICIENT Ring 3/RPL 3/Usermode operations (which webbrowsers run in + their addons like AdBlock slow down even MORESO due to their parsing operations).

7.) HOSTS files will allow you to get to sites you like, via hardcoding your favs into a HOSTS file, FAR faster than remote DNS servers can by FAR (by saving the roundtrip inquiry time to a DNS server, typically 30-100's of ms, vs. 7-10ms HardDisk speed of access/seek + SSD seek in ns, & back to you - hosts resolutions of IP address for host-domain names is FAR faster...). Hosts are only a filter for an already fast & efficient IP stack, no more layered b.s. (remote OR local). Hosts eat less CPU, RAM, I/O in other forms, + electricity than a locally running DNS server easily, and less than a local DNS program on a single PC. Fact. Hosts are easier to setup & maintain too.

8.) AdBlock doesn't let you block out known bad sites or servers that are known to be maliciously scripted, hosts can and many reputable lists for this exist:

Spybot "Search & Destroy" IMMUNIZE feature (fortifies HOSTS files with KNOWN bad servers blocked)

And yes: Even SLASHDOT &/or The Register help!

(Via articles on security (when the source articles they use are "detailed" that is, & list the servers/sites involved in attempting to bushwhack others online that is... not ALL do!)).

2 examples thereof in the past I have used, & noted it there, are/were: [] []

9.) AdBlock & DNS servers are programs, and subject to bugs programs can get. Hosts files are merely a filter and not a program, thus not subject to bugs of the nature just discussed.

10.) HOSTS files protect you vs. DNS-poisoning &/or the Kaminsky flaw in DNS servers, and allow you to get to sites reliably vs. things like the Chinese are doing to DNS -> []

11.) HOSTS files are EASILY user controlled, obtained (for reliable ones -> [] ) & edited too, via texteditors like Windows notepad.exe or Linux nano (etc.)

12.) With Adblock you had better be able to code javascript to play with its code (to customize it better than the GUI front does @ least). With hosts you don't even need source to control it (edit, update, delete, insert of new entries via a text editor).

13.) Hosts files are easily secured via using MAC/ACL (even moreso "automagically" for Vista, 7/Server 2008 + beyond by UAC by default) &/or Read-Only attributes applied.

14.) Custom HOSTS files also speed you up, unlike anonymous proxy servers systems variations (like TOR, or other "highly anonymous" proxy server list servers typically do, in the severe speed hit they often have a cost in) either via "hardcoding" your fav. sites into your hosts file (avoids DNS servers, totally) OR blocking out adbanners - see this below for evidence of that:


US Military Blocks Websites To Free Up Bandwidth: []

(Yes, even the US Military used this type of technique... because IT WORKS! Most of what they blocked? Ad banners ala doubleclick etc.)


Adbanners slow you down & consume your bandwidth YOU pay for:



And people do NOT LIKE ads on the web:



As well as this:

Users Know Advertisers Watch Them, and Hate It: []


Even WORSE still, is this:

Advertising Network Caught History Stealing: []


15.) HOSTS files usage lets you avoid being charged on some ISP/BSP's (OR phone providers) "pay as you use" policy [] , because you are using less bandwidth (& go faster doing so no less) by NOT hauling in adbanner content and processing it (which can lead to infestation by malware/malicious script, in & of itself -> [] ).

16.) If/when ISP/BSP's decide to go to -> FCC Approving Pay-As-You-Go Internet Plans: [] your internet bill will go DOWN if you use a HOSTS file for blocking adbanners as well as maliciously scripted hacker/cracker malware maker sites too (after all - it's your money & time online downloading adbanner content & processing it)

Plus, your adbanner content? Well, it may also be hijacked with malicious code too mind you:


Yahoo, Microsoft's Bing display toxic ads: []


Malware torrent delivered over Google, Yahoo! ad services: []


Google's DoubleClick spreads malicious ads (again): []


Rogue ads infiltrate Expedia and Rhapsody: []


Google sponsored links caught punting malware: []


DoubleClick caught supplying malware-tainted ads: []


Yahoo feeds Trojan-laced ads to MySpace and PhotoBucket users: []


Real Media attacks real people via RealPlayer: []


Ad networks owned by Google, Microsoft serve malware: []


Attacks Targeting Classified Ad Sites Surge: []


Hackers Respond To Help Wanted Ads With Malware: []


Hackers Use Banner Ads on Major Sites to Hijack Your PC: []


Ruskie gang hijacks Microsoft network to push penis pills: []


Major ISPs Injecting Ads, Vulnerabilities Into Web: []


Two Major Ad Networks Found Serving Malware: []












London Stock Exchange Web Site Serving Malware: []


Spotify splattered with malware-tainted ads: []


As my list "multiple evidences thereof" as to adbanners & viruses + the fact they slow you down & cost you more (from reputable & reliable sources no less)).

17.) Per point #16, a way to save some money: ANDROID phones can also use the HOSTS FILE TO KEEP DOWN BILLABLE TIME ONLINE, vs. adbanners or malware such as this:


Infected Androids Run Up Big Texting Bills: []


AND, for protection vs. other "botnets" migrating from the PC world, to "smartphones" such as ZITMO (a ZEUS botnet variant): []


It's easily done too, via the ADB dev. tool, & mounting ANDROID OS' system mountpoint for system/etc as READ + WRITE/ADMIN-ROOT PERMISSIONS, then copying your new custom HOSTS over the old one using ADB PULL/ADB PUSH to do so (otherwise ANDROID complains of "this file cannot be overwritten on production models of this Operating System", or something very along those lines - this way gets you around that annoyance along with you possibly having to clear some space there yourself if you packed it with things!).

18.) Bad news: ADBLOCK CAN BE DETECTED FOR: See here on that note -> []

HOSTS files are NOT THAT EASILY "webbug" BLOCKABLE by websites, as was tried on users by ARSTECHNICA (and it worked on AdBlock in that manner), to that websites' users' dismay:



An experiment gone wrong - By Ken Fisher | Last updated March 6, 2010 11:11 AM []

"Starting late Friday afternoon we conducted a 12 hour experiment to see if it would be possible to simply make content disappear for visitors who were using a very popular ad blocking tool. Technologically, it was a success in that it worked. Ad blockers, and only ad blockers, couldn't see our content."


"Our experiment is over, and we're glad we did it because it led to us learning that we needed to communicate our point of view every once in a while. Sure, some people told us we deserved to die in a fire. But that's the Internet!"

Thus, as you can see? Well - THAT all "went over like a lead balloon" with their users in other words, because Arstechnica was forced to change it back to the old way where ADBLOCK still could work to do its job (REDDIT however, has not, for example). However/Again - this is proof that HOSTS files can still do the job, blocking potentially malscripted ads (or ads in general because they slow you down) vs. adblockers like ADBLOCK!


19.) Even WIKILEAKS "favors" blacklists (because they work, and HOSTS can be a blacklist vs. known BAD sites/servers/domain-host names):



"we are in favour of 'Blacklists', be it for mail servers or websites, they have to be compiled with care... Fortunately, more responsible blacklists, like (which protects the Firefox browser)...


20.) AND, LASTLY? SINCE MALWARE GENERALLY HAS TO OPERATE ON WHAT YOU YOURSELF CAN DO (running as limited class/least privlege user, hopefully, OR even as ADMIN/ROOT/SUPERUSER)? HOSTS "LOCK IN" malware too, vs. communicating "back to mama" for orders (provided they have name servers + C&C botnet servers listed in them, blocked off in your HOSTS that is) - you might think they use a hardcoded IP, which IS possible, but generally they do not & RECYCLE domain/host names they own (such as has been seen with the RBN (Russian Business Network) lately though it was considered "dead", other malwares are using its domains/hostnames now, & this? This stops that cold, too - Bonus!)...

21.) Custom HOSTS files gain users back more "screen real estate" by blocking out banner ads... it's great on PC's for speed along with MORE of what I want to see/read (not ads), & efficiency too, but EVEN BETTER ON SMARTPHONES - by far. It matters MOST there imo @ least, in regards to extra screen real-estate.

Still - It's a GOOD idea to layer in the usage of BOTH browser addons for security like adblock ( [] ), IE 9's new TPL's ( [] ), &/or NoScript ( [] especially this one, as it covers what HOSTS files can't in javascript which is the main deliverer of MOST attacks online & SECUNIA.COM can verify this for anyone really by looking @ the past few years of attacks nowadays), for the concept of "layered security"....

It's just that HOSTS files offer you a LOT MORE gains than Adblock ( [] ) does alone (as hosts do things adblock just plain cannot & on more programs, for more speed, security, and "stealth" to a degree even), and it corrects problems in DNS (as shown above via hardcodes of your favorite sites into your HOSTS file, and more (such as avoiding DNS request logs)).

ALSO - Some more notes on DNS servers & their problems, very recent + ongoing ones:


DNS flaw reanimates slain evil sites as ghost domains: []


BIND vs. what the Chinese are doing to DNS lately? See here: []



(Yes, even "security pros" are helpless vs. DNS problems in code bugs OR redirect DNS poisoning issues, & they can only try to "set the DNS record straight" & then, they still have to wait for corrected DNS info. to propogate across all subordinate DNS servers too - lagtime in which folks DO get "abused" in mind you!)


DNS vs. the "Kaminsky DNS flaw", here (and even MORE problems in DNS than just that): []

(Seems others are saying that some NEW "Bind9 flaw" is worse than the Kaminsky flaw ALONE, up there, mind you... probably corrected (hopefully), but it shows yet again, DNS hassles (DNS redirect/DNS poisoning) being exploited!)


Moxie Marlinspike's found others (0 hack) as well...

Nope... "layered security" truly IS the "way to go" - hacker/cracker types know it, & they do NOT want the rest of us knowing it too!...

(So until DNSSEC takes "widespread adoption"? HOSTS are your answer vs. such types of attack, because the 1st thing your system refers to, by default, IS your HOSTS file (over say, DNS server usage). There are decent DNS servers though, such as OpenDNS, ScrubIT, or even NORTON DNS (more on each specifically below), & because I cannot "cache the entire internet" in a HOSTS file? I opt to use those, because I have to (& OpenDNS has been noted to "fix immediately", per the Kaminsky flaw, in fact... just as a sort of reference to how WELL they are maintained really!)


DNS Hijacks Now Being Used to Serve Black Hole Exploit Kit: []


DNS experts admit some of the underlying foundations of the DNS protocol are inherently weak: []


Potential 0-Day Vulnerability For BIND 9: []


Five DNS Threats You Should Protect Against: []


DNS provider decked by DDoS dastards: []


Ten Percent of DNS Servers Still Vulnerable: (so much for "conscientious patching", eh? Many DNS providers weren't patching when they had to!) []




TimeWarner DNS Hijacking: []


DNS Re-Binding Attacks: []


DNS Server Survey Reveals Mixed Security Picture: []


Halvar figured out super-secret DNS vulnerability: []


BIND Still Susceptible To DNS Cache Poisoning: []


DNS Poisoning Hits One of China's Biggest ISPs: []


DDoS Attacks Via DNS Recursion: []


High Severity BIND DNS Vulnerability Advisory Issued: []


Photobucketâ(TM)s DNS records hijacked: []


Protecting Browsers from DNS Rebinding Attacks: []


DNS Problem Linked To DDoS Attacks Gets Worse: []


HOWEVER - Some DNS servers are "really good stuff" vs. phishing, known bad sites/servers/hosts-domains that serve up malware-in-general & malicious scripting, botnet C&C servers, & more, such as:

Norton DNS -> []
  ScrubIT DNS -> []
  OpenDNS -> []

(Norton DNS in particular, is exclusively for blocking out malware, for those of you that are security-conscious. ScrubIT filters pr0n material too, but does the same, & OpenDNS does phishing protection. Each page lists how & why they work, & why they do so. Norton DNS can even show you its exceptions lists, plus user reviews & removal procedures requests, AND growth stats (every 1/2 hour or so) here -> [] so, that ought to "take care of the naysayers" on removal requests, &/or methods used plus updates frequency etc./et al...)

HOWEVER - There's ONLY 1 WEAKNESS TO ANY network defense, including HOSTS files (vs. host-domain name based threats) & firewalls (hardware router type OR software type, vs. IP address based threats): Human beings, & they not being 'disciplined' about the indiscriminate usage of javascript (the main "harbinger of doom" out there today online), OR, what they download for example... & there is NOTHING I can do about that! (Per Dr. Manhattan of "The Watchmen", ala -> "I can change almost anything, but I can't change human nature")

HOWEVER AGAIN - That's where NORTON DNS, OpenDNS, &/or ScrubIT DNS help!

(Especially for noob/grandma level users who are unaware of how to secure themselves in fact, per a guide like mine noted above that uses "layered-security" principles!)

ScrubIT DNS, &/or OpenDNS are others alongside Norton DNS (adding on phishing protection too) as well!

( & it's possible to use ALL THREE in your hardware NAT routers, and, in your Local Area Connection DNS properties in Windows, for again, "Layered Security" too)...




"Ever since I've installed a host file ( to redirect advertisers to my loopback, I haven't had any malware, spyware, or adware issues. I first started using the host file 5 years ago." - by TestedDoughnut (1324447) on Monday December 13, @12:18AM (#34532122)

"I use a custom /etc/hosts to block ads... my file gets parsed basically instantly ... So basically, for any modern computer, it has zero visible impact. And even if it took, say, a second to parse, that would be more than offset by the MANY seconds saved by not downloading and rendering ads. I have noticed NO ill effects from running a custom /etc/hosts file for the last several years. And as a matter of fact I DO run http servers on my computers and I've never had an /etc/hosts-related problem... it FUCKING WORKS and makes my life better overall." - by sootman (158191) on Monday July 13 2009, @11:47AM (#28677363) Homepage Journal

"I actually went and downloaded a 16k line hosts file and started using that after seeing that post, you know just for trying it out. some sites load up faster." - by gl4ss (559668) on Thursday November 17, @11:20AM (#38086752) Homepage Journal

"Better than an ad blocker, imo. Hosts file entries: [] " - by TempestRose (1187397) on Tuesday March 15, @12:53PM (#35493274)

"^^ One of the many reasons why I like the user-friendliness of the /etc/hosts file." - by lennier1 (264730) on Saturday March 05, @09:26PM (#35393448)

"They've been on my HOSTS block for years" - by ScottCooperDotNet (929575) on Thursday August 05 2010, @01:52AM (#33147212)

"I'm currently only using my hosts file to block pheedo ads from showing up in my RSS feeds and causing them to take forever to load. Regardless of its original intent, it's still a valid tool, when used judiciously." - by Bill Dog (726542) on Monday April 25, @02:16AM (#35927050) Homepage Journal

"you're right about hosts files" - by drinkypoo (153816) on Thursday May 26, @01:21PM (#36252958) Homepage

"APK's monolithic hosts file is looking pretty good at the moment." - by Culture20 (968837) on Thursday November 17, @10:08AM (#38085666)

"I also use the MVPS ad blocking hosts file." - by Rick17JJ (744063) on Wednesday January 19, @03:04PM (#34931482)

"I use ad-Block and a hostfile" - by Ol Olsoc (1175323) on Tuesday March 01, @10:11AM (#35346902)

"I do use Hosts, for a couple fake domains I use." - by icebraining (1313345) on Saturday December 11, @09:34AM (#34523012) Homepage

"It's a good write up on something everybody should use, why you were modded down is beyond me. Using a HOSTS file, ADblock is of no concern and they can do what they want." - by Trax3001BBS (2368736) on Monday December 12, @10:07PM (#38351398) Homepage Journal

"I want my surfing speed back so I block EVERY fucking ad. i.e. [] and [] FTW" - by UnknownSoldier (67820) on Tuesday December 13, @12:04PM (#38356782)

"Let me introduce you to the file: /etc/hosts" - by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Monday December 19, @05:03PM (#38427432)

"I use a hosts file" - by EdIII (1114411) on Tuesday December 13, @01:17PM (#38357816)

"I'm tempted to go for a hacked hosts file that simply resolves most advert sites to" - by bLanark (123342) on Tuesday December 13, @01:13PM (#38357760)

"this is not a troll, which hosts file source you recommend nowadays? it's a really handy method for speeding up web and it works." - by gl4ss (559668) on Thursday March 22, @08:07PM (#39446525) Homepage Journal

"A hosts file certainly does not require "a lot of work" to maintain, and it quite effectively kills a LOT of advertising and tracking schemes. . In fact, I never would have considered trying to use it for ddefending against viruses or malware." - by RocketRabbit (830691) on Thursday December 30 2010, @05:48PM (#34715060)


Then, there is also the words of respected security expert, Mr. Oliver Day, from SECURITYFOCUS.COM to "top that all off" as well:


Some "PERTINENT QUOTES/EXCERPTS" to back up my points with (for starters):


"The host file on my day-to-day laptop is now over 16,000 lines long. Accessing the Internet -- particularly browsing the Web -- is actually faster now."

Speed, and security, is the gain... others like Mr. Day note it as well!


"From what I have seen in my research, major efforts to share lists of unwanted hosts began gaining serious momentum earlier this decade. The most popular appear to have started as a means to block advertising and as a way to avoid being tracked by sites that use cookies to gather data on the user across Web properties. More recently, projects like Spybot Search and Destroy offer lists of known malicious servers to add a layer of defense against trojans and other forms of malware."

Per my points exactly, no less... & guess who was posting about HOSTS files a 14++ yrs. or more back & Mr. Day was reading & now using? Yours truly (& this is one of the later ones, from 2001 [] (but the example HOSTS file with my initials in it is FAR older, circa 1998 or so) or thereabouts, and referred to later by a pal of mine who moderates (where I posted on HOSTS for YEARS (1997 onwards)) -> [] !


"Shared host files could be beneficial for other groups as well. Human rights groups have sought after block resistant technologies for quite some time. The GoDaddy debacle with NMap creator Fyodor (corrected) showed a particularly vicious blocking mechanism using DNS registrars. Once a registrar pulls a website from its records, the world ceases to have an effective way to find it. Shared host files could provide a DNS-proof method of reaching sites, not to mention removing an additional vector of detection if anyone were trying to monitor the use of subversive sites. One of the known weaknesses of the Tor system, for example, is direct DNS requests by applications not configured to route such requests through Tor's network."

There you go: AND, it also works vs. the "KAMINSKY DNS FLAW" & DNS poisoning/redirect attacks, for redirectable weaknesses in DNS servers (non DNSSEC type, & set into recursive mode especially) and also in the TOR system as well (that lends itself to anonymous proxy usage weaknesses I noted above also) and, you'll get to sites you want to, even IF a DNS registrar drops said websites from its tables as shown here Beating Censorship By Routing Around DNS -> [] & even DNSBL also (DNS Block Lists) -> [] as well - DOUBLE-BONUS!


* POSTS ABOUT HOSTS FILES I DID on "/." THAT HAVE DONE WELL BY OTHERS & WERE RATED HIGHLY, 26++ THUSFAR (from +3 -> +1 RATINGS, usually "informative" or "interesting" etc./et al):

  HOSTS MOD UP:2010 -> []
  HOSTS MOD UP:2009 -> []
  HOSTS MOD UP:2010 -> []
  HOSTS MOD UP:2009 -> []
  HOSTS MOD UP:2009 -> []
  HOSTS MOD UP:2009 -> []
  HOSTS MOD UP:2010 -> []
  HOSTS MOD UP:2010 -> []
  APK 20++ POINTS ON HOSTS MOD UP:2010 -> []
  HOSTS MOD UP:2010 -> []
  HOSTS MOD UP:2010 (w/ facebook known bad sites blocked) -> []
  HOSTS MOD UP CAN DO SAME AS THE "CloudFlare" Server-Side service:2011 -> []
  HOSTS MOD UP:2011 -> []
  HOSTS MOD UP & OPERA HAUTE SECURE:2011 -> [] in HOSTS:2009 -> [] IN HOSTS:2009 -> [] in HOSTS:2009 -> [] in HOSTS:2009 -> []
  HOSTS MOD UP:2009 -> [] (still says INSIGHTFUL)
  HOSTS MOD UP vs. botnet: 2012 -> []


Windows 7, VISTA, & Server 2008 have a couple of "issues" I don't like in them, & you may not either, depending on your point of view (mine's based solely on efficiency & security), & if my take on these issues aren't "good enough"? I suggest reading what ROOTKIT.COM says, link URL is in my "p.s." @ the bottom of this post:

1.) HOSTS files being unable to use "0" for a blocking IP address - this started in 12/09/2008 after an "MS Patch Tuesday" in fact for VISTA (when it had NO problem using it before that, as Windows 2000/XP/Server 2003 still can)... & yes, this continues in its descendants, Windows Server 2008 &/or Windows 7 as well.

So, why is this a "problem" you might ask?

Ok - since you can technically use either:

a.) (the "loopback adapter address")
b.) (next smallest & next most efficient)
c.) The smallest & fastest plain-jane 0


You can use ANY of those, in order to block out known bad sites &/or adbanners in a HOSTS file this way??

Microsoft has "promoted bloat" in doing so... no questions asked.

Simply because

1.) = 9 bytes in size on disk & is the largest/slowest
2.) = 7 bytes & is the next largest/slowest in size on disk
3.) 0 = 1 byte

(& HOSTS files extend across EVERY webbrowser, email program, or in general every webbound program you use & thus HOSTS are "global" in coverage this way AND function on any OS that uses the BSD derived IP stack (which most all do mind you, even MS is based off of it, as BSD's IS truly, "the best in the business"), & when coupled with say, IE restricted zones, FireFox addons like NoScript &/or AdBlock, or Opera filter.ini/urlfilter.ini, for layered security in this capacity for webbrowsers & SOME email programs (here, I mean ones "built into" browsers themselves like Opera has for example))

MS has literally promoted bloat in this file, making it load slower from disk, into memory! This compounds itself, the more entries your HOSTS file contains... & for instance? Mine currently contains nearly 654,000 entries of known bad adbanners, bad websites, &/or bad nameservers (used for controlling botnets, misdirecting net requests, etc. et al).

Now, IF I were to use My "huge" HOSTS file would be approximately 27mb in size... using (next smallest) it would be 19mb in size - HOWEVER? Using 0 as my blocking IP, it is only 14mb in size. See my point?

(For loads either in the local DNS cache, or system diskcache if you run w/out the local DNS client service running, this gets slower the larger each HOSTS file entry is (which you have to stall the DNS client service in Windows for larger ones, especially if you use a "giant HOSTS file" (purely relative term, but once it goes over (iirc) 4mb in size, you have to cut the local DNS cache client service)))

NO questions asked - the physics of it backed me up in theory alone, but when I was questioned on it for PROOF thereof?

I wrote a small test program to load such a list into a "pascal record" (which is analagous to a C/C++ structure), which is EXACTLY what the DNS client/DNS API does as well, using a C/C++ structure (basically an array of sorts really, & a structure/record is a precursor part to a full-blown CLASS or OBJECT, minus the functions built in, this is for treating numerous variables as a SINGLE VARIABLE (for efficiency, which FORTRAN as a single example, lacks as a feature, @ least Fortran 77 did, but other languages do not))!

I even wrote another that just loaded my HOSTS file's entirety into a listbox, same results... slowest using, next slowest using, & fastest using 0.

And, sure: Some MORE "goes on" during DNS API loads (iirc, removal of duplicated entries (which I made sure my personal copy does not have these via a program I wrote to purge it of duplicated entries + to sort each entry alphabetically for easier mgt. via say, notepad.exe) & a conversion from decimal values to hex ones), but, nevertheless? My point here "holds true", of slower value loads, record-by-record, from a HOSTS file, when the entries become larger.

So, to "prove my point" to my naysayers?

I timed it using the Win32 API calls "GetTickCount" & then again, using the API calls of "QueryPerformanceCounter" as well, seeing the SAME results (a slowdown when reading in this file from disk, especially when using the larger or line item entries in a HOSTS file, vs. the smaller/faster/more efficient 0).

In my test, I saw a decline in speed/efficiency in my test doing so by using larger blocking addresses ( &/or, vs. the smallest/fastest in 0)... proving me correct on this note!

On this HOSTS issue, and the WFP design issue in my next post below?

I also then questioned MS' own staff, even their VP of development (S. Sinofsky) on this here -> [] & other places in their blogs, to get them to tell me WHY this seemingly intentional inefficiency was implemented... & I have YET to get a solid LOGICAL answer on this as to why it was done - THUS, @ this point?

I am convinced they (MS) do NOT have a good reason for doing this... because of their lack of response there on this note. Unless it has something to do with IPv6 (most folks use IPv4 still), I cannot understand WHY this design mistake imo, has occurred, in HOSTS files...


2.) The "Windows Filtering Platform", which is now how the firewall works in VISTA, Server 2008, & Windows 7...

Sure it works in this new single point method & it is simple to manage & "sync" all points of it, making it easier for network techs/admins to manage than the older 3 part method, but that very thing works against it as well, because it is only a single part system now!

Thus, however?

This "single layer design" in WFP, now represents a SINGLE POINT OF FAILURE/ATTACK for malware makers to 'take down'!

(Which is 1 of the 1st things a malware attempts to do, is to take down any software firewalls present, or even the "Windows Security Center" itself which should warn you of the firewall "going down", & it's fairly easy to do either by messaging the services they use, or messing up their registry init. settings)

VS. the older (up to) 3 part method used in Windows 2000/XP/Server 2003, for protecting a system via IP Filtering, the Windows native Firewall, &/or IPSEC. Each of which uses diff. drivers, & layers of the IP stack to function from, as well as registry initialization settings.

Think of the older 3 part design much the same as the reason why folks use door handle locks, deadbolt locks, & chain locks on their doors... multipart layered security.

(Each of which the latter older method used, had 3 separate drivers & registry settings to do their jobs, representing a "phalanx like"/"zone defense like" system of backup of one another (like you see in sports OR ancient wars, and trust me, it WORKS, because on either side of yourself, you have "backup", even if YOU "go down" vs. the opponent)).

I.E.-> Take 1 of the "older method's" 3 part defenses down? 2 others STILL stand in the way, & they are not that simple to take them ALL down...

(Well, @ least NOT as easily as "taking out" a single part defensive system like WFP (the new "Windows Filtering Platform", which powers the VISTA, Windows Server 2008, & yes, Windows 7 firewall defense system)).

On this "single-part/single-point of attack" WFP (vs. Windows 2000/XP/Server 2003's IP stack defense design in 3-part/zone defense/phalanx type arrangement) as well as the HOSTS issue in my post above?

I also then questioned MS' own staff, even their VP of development (S. Sinofsky) on this here -> [] & other places in their blogs, to get them to tell me WHY this seemingly intentional inefficiency was implemented... & I have YET to get a solid LOGICAL answer on this as to why it was done - THUS, @ this point?

I'll stick to my thoughts on it, until I am shown otherwise & proven wrong.


Following up on what I wrote up above, so those here reading have actual technical references from Microsoft themselves ("The horses' mouth"), in regards to the Firewall/PortFilter/IPSec designs (not HOSTS files, that I am SURE I am correct about, no questions asked) from my "Point #2" above?

Thus, I'll now note how:


1.) TCP/IP packet processing paths differences between in how Windows 2000/XP/Server 2003 did it (IPSEC.SYS (IP Security Policies), IPNAT.SYS (Windows Firewall), IPFLTDRV.SYS (Port Filtering), & TCPIP.SYS (base IP driver))...

2.) AND, how VISTA/Server 2008/Windows 7 do it now currently, using a SINGLE layer (WFP)...


First off, here is HOW it worked in Windows 2000/XP/Server 2003 - using 3 discrete & different drivers AND LEVELS/LAYERS of the packet processing path they worked in: []

The Cable Guy - June 2005: TCP/IP Packet Processing Paths


The following components process IP packets:

IP forwarding Determines the next-hop interface and address for packets being sent or forwarded.

TCP/IP filtering Allows you to specify by IP protocol, TCP port, or UDP port, the types of traffic that are acceptable for incoming local host traffic (packets destined for the host). You can configure TCP/IP filtering on the Options tab from the advanced properties of the Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) component in the Network Connections folder.

* "Here endeth the lesson..." and, if you REALLY want to secure your system? Please refer to this: []

APK [mailto]

P.S.=> SOME MINOR "CAVEATS/CATCH-22's" - things to be aware of for "layered security" + HOSTS file performance - easily overcome, or not a problem at all:

A.) HOSTS files don't function under PROXY SERVERS (except for Proximitron, which has a filter that allows it) - Which is *the "WHY"* of why I state in my "P.S." section below to use both AdBlock type browser addon methods (or even built-in block lists browsers have such as Opera's URLFILTER.INI file, & FireFox has such as list as does IE also in the form of TPL (tracking protection lists -> [] , good stuff )) in combination with HOSTS, for the best in "layered security" (alongside .pac files + custom cascading style sheets that can filter off various tags such as scripts or ads etc.) - but proxies, especially "HIGHLY ANONYMOUS" types, generally slow you down to a CRAWL online (& personally, I cannot see using proxies "for the good" typically - as they allow "truly anonymous posting" & have bugs (such as TOR has been shown to have & be "bypassable/traceable" via its "onion routing" methods)).

B.) HOSTS files do NOT protect you vs. javascript (this only holds true IF you don't already have a bad site blocked out in your HOSTS file though, & the list of sites where you can obtain such lists to add to your HOSTS are above (& updated daily in many of them)).

C.) HOSTS files (relatively "largish ones") require you to turn off Windows' native "DNS local client cache service" (which has a problem in that it's designed with a non-redimensionable/resizeable list, array, or queue (DNS data loads into a C/C++ structure actually/afaik, which IS a form of array)) - covers that in detail and how to easily do this in Windows (this is NOT a problem in Linux, & it's 1 thing I will give Linux over Windows, hands-down). Relatively "smallish" HOSTS files don't have this problem ( offers 2 types for this).

D.) HOSTS files, once read/loaded, once? GET CACHED! Right into the kernelmode diskcaching subsystem (fast & efficient RAM speed), for speed of access/re-access (@ system startup in older MS OS' like 2000, or, upon a users' 1st request that's "Webbound" via say, a webbrowser) gets read into either the DNS local caching client service (noted above), OR, if that's turned off? Into your local diskcac

Re:His wheelchair uses my HOST file... apk (-1, Offtopic)

aglider (2435074) | about a year ago | (#43481813)

I bet 1 BTC either YOU are a moron, or the /. guy who won't delete your post.

Re:His wheelchair uses my HOST file... apk (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43481925)

Half of your "facts" are flat out wrong.

Say that to my face fucker not online... apk (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43482103)

Say that to my face fucker not online and see what happens.

Want to know why I was modded down?

See here, explains it all -> []

* :)

I.E./Summary: Trolls had a challenge put to them to validly disprove my points in the post I just replied to - result? Trolls FAIL... lol!


P.S.=> That's what makes me LAUGH harder than ANYTHING ELSE on this forums (full of "FUD" spreading trolls) - When you hit trolls with facts & truths they CANNOT disprove validly on computing tech based grounds, this is the result - Applying unjustifiable downmods to effetely & vainly *try* to "hide" my posts & facts/truths they extoll!

Hahaha... lol, man: Happens nearly every single time I post such lists (proving how ineffectual these trolls are), only showing how solid my posts of that nature are...

Ah yes "geek angst" @ it's 'finest' (not), vs. facts & truths = downmod by /. weak trolls!

... apk

Re:Say that to my face fucker not online... apk (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43482375)

When and where? I'll bet you don't do a damn thing to a rugby player who will knock you flat on your ass before you swing a single punch. You are simply, and very pathetically trying to get attention. No one paid attention to this a couple weeks ago, and still no one cares about it.

Re:Say that to my face fucker not online... apk (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43483327)

Get your facts straight 1st [] as to who's doing the spams, including the post you replied to. It's not apk. It's Jeremiah Cornelius doing these spams, proven here [] (where Jeremiah Cornelius mistakenly posted using his registered user name on slashdot instead of his usual 100's of anonymous coward submissions to do it in nearly every news article on this site all last month March 2013 right into this month now, whereas apk only posts on hosts where they actually apply to the topic at hand). Jeremiah Cornelius gave himself away in that mistake that he's doing these spam posts by ac now.

Re:Say that to my face fucker not online... apk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43482477)

only showing how solid my posts of that nature are

LOL. Solid = craaaaaaazy

Re:Say that to my face fucker not online... apk (1)

kenaaker (774785) | about a year ago | (#43483349)

"I don't want to talk to you no more, you empty headed animal food trough wiper. I fart in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries.

.. now go away or I shall taunt you a second time."

Re:His wheelchair uses my HOST file... apk (1)

kilfarsnar (561956) | about a year ago | (#43482165)

I've been hanging around this site for a while, and I don't understand why this gets posted so much. And I even used to use a custom hosts file!

Jeremiah Cornelius embarasses himself again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43482319)

Doing ac submitted apk impersonations [] which he usually submits by anonymous coward in the 100's for all of March 2013 last month and now this month too (but as we all can see, he messed up and did that 1 by using his registered user name instead in the link above giving himself away). Cat's out of the bag Jeremiah Cornelius. Grow up, and quit annoying the rest of us with your juvenile behaviour.

Re:Jeremiah Cornelius embarasses himself again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43482413)

"Grow up, and quit annoying the rest of us with your juvenile behaviour." Do the same?

Don't feel bad... (5, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | about a year ago | (#43481823)

The Higgs boson was also wrong in its view that Stephen Hawkings doesn't exist.

Re:Don't feel bad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43481953)

It won that bet. Turns out there's only one of him.

Re:Don't feel bad... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43481961)

To be fair, it took many years of physicists being supercollided against each other before a trace of Stephen Hawking was even detectable.

Re:Don't feel bad... (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | about a year ago | (#43482437)

The Higgs boson was also wrong in its view that Stephen Hawkings doesn't exist.

Interesting bet. The only way to win is not to wager.

FTA (3, Insightful)

MyLongNickName (822545) | about a year ago | (#43481839)

Hawking honed-in on the question “why something rather than nothing?” reasserting his point of view that a supernatural “god” is not needed to create the universe — quantum fluctuations helped shape our evolving universe at the Big Bang, adding the conditions were “just right” for life (and therefore us) to be asking these profound questions.

This is what I don't understand about these intelligent people. They answer why there is something rather than nothing by talking about how quantum fluctuations work. The existence of quantum fluctuations results from energy existing in the first place. So we have a rather circular argument being made. Essentially it boils down to "there is something because there was something".

There are only two possibilities: 1) there has always been something 2) there wasn't always something. Neither can be true, ergo we don't exist.

Re:FTA (4, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | about a year ago | (#43481893)

There are only two possibilities: 1) there has always been something 2) there wasn't always something. Neither can be true, ergo we don't exist.

Things can change form, eg. energy->matter.

All you need to create all the matter in the universe is a single photon with a wavelength of 10^95Hz, then convert energy->matter.

Re:and so the argument continues to circle... (2)

kvothe (2013374) | about a year ago | (#43482507)

Right, all you need is for something to exist in the first place, which can then be organized into other things... So, where does the photon come from?

Re:and so the argument continues to circle... (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43483631)

In the beginning, God said "let there be light," and there was light.


Re:FTA (1)

Luna Argenteus (1938902) | about a year ago | (#43482595)

Yeah, and my height would then be 1713099.76 Hz.

Re:FTA (2)

NatasRevol (731260) | about a year ago | (#43482677)

That photon would be the actual God particle then.

Re:FTA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43481907)

Neither can be true

Why can't the first be true? In fact, that's basically what religious people argue (but that doesn't mean it's totally impossible).

Re:FTA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43481951)

Neither can be true

Why can't the first be true? In fact, that's basically what religious people argue (but that doesn't mean it's totally impossible).


-- MyLongNickName

Re:FTA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43482029)

We don't have a full understanding of the universe, so that's not really a sufficient answer.

Re:FTA (1)

khallow (566160) | about a year ago | (#43482161)

Entropy doesn't prohibit the universe from always existing or being created, or other priors. It plus the laws of thermodynamics merely constrain how the universe evolves.

Re:FTA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43482967)

If the "universe" or whatever multiverse we exist in is bounded by entropy, and has a finite amount of energy to begin with, then an infinite lifespan is not possible. The multiverse, at this point in time, would have already existed an infinite amount of time and therefore have already degenerated to a maximum entropy point. We can observe this is not the case.

-- MyLongNickname

Re:FTA (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43482011)

This is what I don't understand about these intelligent people. They answer why there is something rather than nothing by talking about how quantum fluctuations work. The existence of quantum fluctuations results from energy existing in the first place. So we have a rather circular argument being made.

He's not arguing that 'something' exists because of quantum fluctuations, he's merely asserting that they replace the need for an intelligent design to explain our existence.

Essentially it boils down to "there is something because there was something".

There are only two possibilities: 1) there has always been something 2) there wasn't always something. Neither can be true, ergo we don't exist.

Besides being a gross (and I mean huge) oversimplication of the facts I fail to see why 'Neither can be true'.

All in all I don't know what you're trying to prove but whatever it is you aren't quite there yet.

Oh, and 'these intelligent people' as you so disparagingly call them are extremely dedicated people that have worked years to reach the pinnacle of human understanding. You don't have to agree with them but a little more respect might suit you.

Re:FTA (1, Troll)

BitZtream (692029) | about a year ago | (#43482629)

He's not arguing that 'something' exists because of quantum fluctuations, he's merely asserting that they replace the need for an intelligent design to explain our existence.

And that would make him rather stupid then wouldn't it? Why do the quantum fluctuations exist, what do they exist in, what created them? Now we're right back where we started aren't we? This is one of those examples of people worshiping a scientist like he himself is a god. You've got some sort of ignorant blind faith in him for no logical reason as even his logic ... well, isn't.

He doesn't seem to be able to understand the question in the first place judging by his answers. He is too focused on whats at the end of his theories rather than what he can actually observe.

He may be the most intelligent person on the planet, but tunnel vision is clearly holding him back.

Re:FTA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43482855)

As an atheist, I will point out that the god hypothesis also doesn't solve the problem. If everything needs a cause, you can't just say "Well, god doesn't need a cause, because I define god to be the thing that doesn't need a cause, problem solved." That's not a satisfying solution to the problem, because you still have an uncaused entity, regardless of how you decide to define the word; the thing it describes remains uncaused.

Quantum fluctuations are a more satisfactory explanation. They're extremely simple; it's more likely that something simple can be uncaused and can just exist, and have always existed, than that the same is true for something complex, like a god. And this simple thing explains how more complex things can jump into existence by random chance.

Re:FTA (2)

sunsurfandsand (1959680) | about a year ago | (#43483025)

Why do the quantum fluctuations exist, what do they exist in, what created them?

Implicit in your argument is the assumption that if something exists, then it must have been created. If that assumption is correct, then if the Universe exists, it must have been created. What created the Universe? Some people, perhaps including you, would answer that God created the Universe. Does God exist? If so, what created created God? Now you have the problem of an infinite regress.

If, however, the assumption is incorrect, then the Universe can exist without having been created. If the Universe can exist without having been created, then your criticism of Hawking's logic is poorly supported.

Re:FTA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43482999)

Oh, and 'these intelligent people' as you so disparagingly call them are extremely dedicated people that have worked years to reach the pinnacle of human understanding. You don't have to agree with them but a little more respect might suit you.

In what universe does calling someone "intelligent" qualify as disparaging? Quite the opposite was intended.


Re:FTA (4, Interesting)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about a year ago | (#43482033)

Quantum fluctuations are energy neutral, they don't require there to be existing energy to create, at least not beyond the vacuum energy. Of course, then the argument becomes where did the vacuum come from? Where did the laws of physics come from? But what Hawking is saying is that given an empty universe, the laws of physics, and lots and lots and lots of time (though in an empty universe time is pretty meaningless) quantum fluctuations will eventually produce a full universe.

Re:FTA (1)

The_R_Meister (1221402) | about a year ago | (#43482881)

So, given some things (vacuum, the way we understand vacuum, time), other things may come into being. Still "there is something because there was something", with possibly the added twist that "there always has been something, there never has been nothing."

Re:FTA (1)

iMadeGhostzilla (1851560) | about a year ago | (#43483393)

But vacuum is far from nothing, from what I've read: it has infinite energy and a very complex structure, in terms of quantum physics. What we call "matter" is also a manifestation of energy (literally). So the universe is never empty, energy-wise, it just always appears differently.

Re:FTA (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year ago | (#43482399)

It's not a circular argument, inasmuch as the fields that fluctuate to allow a big bang to happen are not the fields that exist after the bang. They've moved the issue back one stage further in time, and in doing so created an intellectual space in which one might begin to address the validity of various models.

Re:FTA (1)

shadow_slicer (607649) | about a year ago | (#43482641)

There are only two possibilities: 1) there has always been something 2) there wasn't always something. Neither can be true, ergo we don't exist.

According to the big bang theory, there has been "something" as long as there was "time" and "space". This means it would actually be accurate to say that there has always been something. Talking about things before the big bang makes about as much sense as asking what is east of the north pole.

Re:FTA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43482753)

There are only two possibilities: 1) there has always been something

If by "always" you mean "since last Tuesday", then, yes, that's correct.

Gambler? (2)

Culture20 (968837) | about a year ago | (#43481857)

He backed his scientific hypothesis with money and his hypothesis was wrong. How does that make him a great scientist or a poor gambler?

Re:Gambler? (4, Insightful)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about a year ago | (#43481911)

Who cares if he is a great scientist or poor gambler? At least he makes the topic amusing by betting on it. That raises interest in the general public about it.

Re:Gambler? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43482015)

Hurr durr link baiting title.

Re:Gambler? (1)

gutnor (872759) | about a year ago | (#43482073)

He is a great scientist in his own right. You won't dismiss his entire career because he lost 2 bets ... also let's keep that in perspective, scientist are wrong all the time and argue all the time, the sentence is obviously only meant at poking fun at S Hawking and nothing else.

Re:Gambler? (2)

egcagrac0 (1410377) | about a year ago | (#43482293)

scientist are wrong all the time and argue all the time

Exactly. You don't learn new things when you're right.

Re:Gambler? (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | about a year ago | (#43482711)

You don't learn new things when you're right.

What? If you're right about a future particle, you learned something.

Re:Gambler? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43482741)

He is a great scientist in his own right.

He's a fairly competent scientist, but mostly he's just known because he's a quadriplegic. The "point buy mentality" makes people think that he must be twice as smart as the next guy because he has pathetic physical stats and a handful of massive flaws. (what they fail to realize, while being swayed by it, is that he dumped all the points into charisma)

Re:Gambler? (2)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year ago | (#43483359)

That would explain his popularity with the general public but it hardly accounts for the huge esteem with which his work is held in cosmology. You can bullshit your fans but you can't bullshit your colleagues.

God doesn't play dice (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43481859)

...and neither should Stephen Hawking

misleading summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43481889)

Pr. Leonard Susskind theorized that Hawking was wrong. Preskill merely bet on him.

Sheldon Cooper reportedly had a stroke (2)

nopainogain (1091795) | about a year ago | (#43481891)

Sheldon Cooper reportedly had a stroke upon hearing the news.

Re:Sheldon Cooper reportedly had a stroke (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43482689)

Please shut up. That show sucks.

The Controversial Side (4, Insightful)

invid (163714) | about a year ago | (#43481899)

Hawking tends to bet on the more controversial side of a scientific debate, and thus the less likely side. He does not play it safe. Of course, statistically he's going to lose. But when he wins ( Hawking Radiation [] ) he gets stuff named after him.

Re:The Controversial Side (3, Insightful)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about a year ago | (#43482315)

Hawking tends to bet on the more controversial side of a scientific debate, and thus the less likely side. He does not play it safe. Of course, statistically he's going to lose. But when he wins ( Hawking Radiation [] ) he gets stuff named after him.

Out of curiosity, why is he going to lose statistically? He isn't picking one side of an argument or another just for the sake of picking. He does his research and forms his hypotheses others do theirs. One may be right or they all may be wrong, but it's not like flipping a coin. Where does statistics come into play?

What is missed in all of this is why he doubted the Higgs boson -- because, as has now been shown, it is incompatible with our current understanding of how particles formed after the big bang. So, if what we now know or think we know about the Higgs boson is correct, we now have to go back to the drawing board on how matter formed in the very early universe. When Hawking made his $100 bet, that theory was well accepted, now it is wrong and another is needed to account for HB.

Re:The Controversial Side (1)

invid (163714) | about a year ago | (#43482575)

Given two conflicting theories, is it more or less likely that the one that most scientist agree with will be correct? Now apply this to multiple instances of conflicting theories. I hope that statistically, the majority of scientists are correct most of the time.

Re:The Controversial Side (2)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year ago | (#43482435)

I recall that at least one of his bets was an insurance policy against the possibility that his favourite theory was false. If it was disproven, at least he'd have the consolation of (IIRC) a year's supply of Playboy magazine.

His "bad" bets spark innovation (5, Interesting)

Quick Reply (688867) | about a year ago | (#43481915)

He isn't offering the money as a token to indicate how strongly he believes in an idea. $100 isn't going to break the bank for him.

What is he really doing is offering the chance to boast "I won a bet against Stephen Hawking" (You know... The guy who is regarded by most people to be the smartest person in the world) as the prize for some very extreme research.

He is giving the encouragement to push the boundaries of what we know about science in the quest of knowledge, and this is exactly what science is about.

So even when he "loses" the bet, he wins, because he has helped science go further by challenging everything that we know, instead of just following what the "smartest" people think,

Re:His "bad" bets spark innovation (3, Interesting)

Daithi_c (698132) | about a year ago | (#43482051)

I have to agree with this comment.

It may be wrong, but didn't Albert Einstein challenge people who questioned his ideas to go ahead and prove him wrong, just to get people working on finding stuff out rather than simply challenging some theory that was proposed.

Kudos to Prof. Hawking for stimulating research, and having some fun at the same time!

Perhaps the writers of The Big Bang Theory could use the idea to have Prof. Hawking make a bet with Sheldon Cooper about a particular theory. I heard he really enjoyed his appearance on the show and it would be great to see him as a guest star again.

Re:His "bad" bets spark innovation (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#43482533)

100 is a lot cheaper than paying a researcher to write a paper. he should be making a lot more bets.

Re:His "bad" bets spark innovation (2)

bmacs27 (1314285) | about a year ago | (#43482681)

Stephen Hawking is not the smartest person in the world. He isn't even that great a scientist. More just a great communicator.

Re:His "bad" bets spark innovation (1)

artor3 (1344997) | about a year ago | (#43482987)

That's a nice thought, and likely a side effect of his wagers, but is it really his intent?

I attended a guest lecture by Kip Thorne several years ago, and he made it seem that one of the early bets between him and Hawking (on the existence of black holes) was just a friendly wager between colleagues, the way you might bet a coworker a beer on the outcome of the Super Bowl, not some open challenge to all comers. The bet with Preskill regarding information loss in black holes seems similar - the prize was a book about baseball, after all.

Maybe this latest wager is different, but I doubt it. People were hard a work looking for the Higgs boson before Hawking offered his bet. I think a more likely explanation is that Hawking just does this for fun. Scientists are people, after all. They hang out at the water cooler, talk sports, complain about the weather, etc, just like any other office. Not everything they do needs to have some deeper purpose.

Re:His "bad" bets spark innovation (1)

dywolf (2673597) | about a year ago | (#43483525)

in essence he's supporting the scientific ideal of "question everything, even me".
you may (even likely) be wrong...but you may be right.

and if you are, oh how interesting it is to pursue a brand new avenue of research that turns all of "accepted" science on its head.

Wrong again Albert! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43481921)

Hey, he beat a holographic Albert Einstein in poker. That's good enough for me.

Hawking won this one (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43481929)

This is the problem with popular science culture (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43481947)

We have a handful of really great scientists that have been damn near deified by the layman to the point that their opinions are treated as fact. That's a problem. These scientists are people too and things that they muse about among other great minds aren't always meant for public consumption as I do not believe the public has as healthy a form of skepticism as someone like Richard Feynman would have. Popular scientists must be extra cautious of what they say in forums that may be open to public scrutiny for that reason along.
Taking ideas out of context doesn't help matters any either but sometimes it's hard to keep an idea in context and not make it seem like a totally foreign thought to the layman.

Let the Grammar Nazis Loose! No, wait, lose! (1)

jchap (628091) | about a year ago | (#43482003)

I bet I'll lose this bet.

Poker (1)

karmawhore (122760) | about a year ago | (#43482107)

He is a pretty good poker player [] , though.

Just As Well (4, Funny)

Greyfox (87712) | about a year ago | (#43482115)

It'd suck having to put up with trash talk from Stephen Hawking after he won a bet with you.

Re:Just As Well (2)

kruach aum (1934852) | about a year ago | (#43482263)

Not really, you could just turn off his speaker.

Re:Just As Well (2)

rwise2112 (648849) | about a year ago | (#43482583)

It'd suck having to put up with trash talk from Stephen Hawking after he won a bet with you.

Like this from Big Bang Theory: "Professor Hawking: What do Sheldon Cooper and the black hole have in common? They both suck."

Re:Just As Well (1)

Leif_Bloomquist (311286) | about a year ago | (#43483167)

It'd suck having to put up with trash talk from Stephen Hawking after he won a bet with you.

Yeah, he's pretty good at the trash talk, especially in rhyme. []

Button misconfigured (1)

YoungManKlaus (2773165) | about a year ago | (#43482185)

Every time he wants to select "You are right" the darn computer just says "Lets make a bet" ;)

Xmocd down (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43482217)

tteth intO when []

Depends on point of view surely (1)

TonyJohn (69266) | about a year ago | (#43482219)

If I owned a casino, I would consider him to be a good gambler. Not a great gambler, because his wagers are relatively modest. Seriously though, he appears to be perfectly willing to concede defeat so I can only see benefits: it motivates further research into the topic, and it adds a bit more interest (for lay people) to a potentially niche subject. You could almost think that he deliberately arranged to lose.

He does it on purpose (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43482255)

To quote from his book, A Brief History of Time, about his bet against the existence of black holes:
“This was a form of insurance policy for me. I have done a lot of work on black holes, and it would all be wasted if it turned out that black holes do not exist. But in that case, I would have the consolation of winning my bet, which would win me four years of the magazine Private Eye. If black holes do exist, Kip will get one year of Penthouse. When we made the bet in 1975, we were 80% certain that Cygnus X-1 was a black hole. By now [1988], I would say that we are about 95% certain, but the bet has yet to be settled. "

Re:He does it on purpose (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year ago | (#43482495)

Maybe I have a later edition (or I'm thinking of a different book) but I recall him writing about Kip Thorne's wife's reaction to the payment of the bet.

He does give in easy (1)

mbone (558574) | about a year ago | (#43482349)

Of course, this is a way of concentrating people's minds, and getting attention to the subject. He is a theoritician, not an experimentalist, so he gives in fairly easily.

Hawking lost a famous wager to Preskill in 2004 in a debate over whether or not black holes destroy information (theory suggests they do not, opposing Hawking's argument).

The theory that made him give in is "M-theory," which has absolutely no experimental evidence in favor of it. He decided he lost the wager; the debate itself is very much still open, and was even in the news lately (search on "black hole firewall").

The chance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43482363)

The chance to beat Stephen Hawking, and he gives it. What a truly brilliant man.

Bet ya $100... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43483151)

...that he will wager another $100 on an obvious point just to justify his move. :)

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