Segments in this Video

Meet the Panelists (02:39)


Debate moderator and filmmaker David Malone outlines Stephen Hawking's recent doubts of the existence of black holes. He introduces physics professor and multiverse researcher Laura Mersini-Houghton, astronomer Michael Rowan-Robinson, and astrophysics professor Pedro Ferreira.

Laura Mersini-Houghton: the Pitch (03:48)

Mersini-Houghton cites controversy around using general relativity to explain black holes. Using quantum mechanics in Hawking radiation results in an information loss paradox. Scientists must trust quantum mechanics, general relativity, or produce a third "quantum gravity" theory. She questions the existence of singularity.

Pedro Ferreira: the Pitch (02:11)

Ferreira explains black hole geometry and says the theory has been periodically challenged. There is mathematical evidence for black holes, and he predicts telescopes will soon be able to photograph the event horizon at the galaxy center.

Michael Rowan-Robinson: the Pitch (04:06)

Rowan-Robinson reads from Oppenheimer and Snyder's 1939 abstract and presents evidence for stellar mass and super massive black holes. He argues that Hawking radiation does not exist and modern theoretical physics is flawed.

Theme One: What are Black Holes? - Part One (05:53)

Ferreira explains how space-time bends to infinite curvature; nothing exists within. Rowan-Robinson says physics laws do not apply to singularities. They predict that telescopes will soon observe the event horizon.

What are Black Holes? - Part Two (06:24)

Mersini-Houghton explains that effective theories have parameters; singularity contradicts the theory predicting black holes. Physicists believe another theory will replace general relativity to explain the origins of the universe. She and Rowan-Robinson debate the Hawking radiation and evaporation time scale.

Theme Two: Must Our Theories Break Down Inside a Black Hole? - Part One (05:06)

Ferreira says the Schwarzschild horizon is independent of effective field theories; general relativity predicts Hawking radiation. If we understood singularities, we would understand microscopic space-time. Rowan-Robinson sees more hope for the Big Bang singularity explaining dark energy and universe origins than for finding evidence of black hole singularities.

Must Our Theories Break Down Inside a Black Hole? - Part Two (05:01)

Mersini-Houghton argues that extrapolating the existence of a Big Bang singularity closes the door to scientific inquiry; she explains the information loss paradox. Quantum theory contradicts general relativity, which is also used to deduce black hole existence. Rowan-Robinson argues that information is not really lost.

Theme Three: Do We Need New Theories to Explain the Universe? (08:14)

Ferreira explains that Hawking and Penrose used assumptions; the theory of gravity may be wrong at high curvatures or we may have an oversimplified understanding of matter. Rowan-Robinson calls for a new theory combining quantum mechanics and general relativity. Mersini-Houghton suggests the universe started as a quantum object.

Credits: Bang Goes Another Theory of the Universe: Are Black Holes a Fantasy? (00:07)

Credits: Bang Goes Another Theory of the Universe: Are Black Holes a Fantasy?

For additional digital leasing and purchase options contact a media consultant at 800-257-5126
(press option 3) or

Bang Goes Another Theory of the Universe: Are Black Holes a Fantasy?

Part of the Series : Institute of Art and Ideas: Cutting Edge Debates and Talks from the World's Leading Thinkers
DVD (Chaptered) Price: $169.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $254.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



Early in his career, Hawking described black holes and claimed they break all physical laws. Since then they have been 'found' at the centre of galaxies. Now leading cosmologists, Hawking amongst them, doubt they exist. Are black holes a fantasy? If so, much is at stake including relativity and the origin of the universe.

The Panel                                                                                                                                              

Theoretical physicist Laura Mersini-Houghton, author of The Perfect Theory Pedro Ferreira and former Royal Astronomical Society president Michael Rowan-Robinson explore beyond black holes.

Length: 44 minutes

Item#: BVL115735

ISBN: 978-1-63521-095-8

Copyright date: ©2015

Closed Captioned

Performance Rights

Prices include public performance rights.

Not available to Home Video customers.

Only available in USA and Canada.