Stephen Hawking May Have Just Solved the Paradox of Black Holes

Tuesday, 25 August 2015 - 5:25PM
Astrophysics
Physics
Black Holes
Tuesday, 25 August 2015 - 5:25PM
Stephen Hawking May Have Just Solved the Paradox of Black Holes
Ever since their conception, the defining characteristic of black holes has been their inescapable quality; even light itself theoretically cannot escape from the event horizon. But this quality has also led to the seemingly intractable black hole information paradox, which has plagued scientists for decades. Now, none other than Stephen Hawking has conceived of a possible solution to the paradox, which essentially contends that black holes are not as black as we once believed.

According to the theory of black holes as predicted by general relativity, any matter that comes too close to a black hole is consumed and utterly destroyed, including the information about its physical state. But according to quantum mechanics, information cannot be destroyed, but rather is encoded in its wave function. Thus, a paradox was born, but Hawking believes he has resolved the paradox through what amounts to an astrophysical loophole. Rather than argue that information can actually leave a black hole, Hawking claims that the information never makes it inside the black hole to begin with. 



Opening quote
"I propose that the information is stored not in the interior of the black hole as one might expect, but on its boundary, the event horizon," he said at a lecture in Stockholm for the Hawking Radiation Conference.
Closing quote


This theory would be consistent with the tenets of both general relativity and quantum mechanics, as information still can't leave the black hole, but the information isn't destroyed. Instead, the information is stored on the event horizon as a two-dimensional hologram: the physical description without the actual three-dimensional object.

Opening quote
"The idea is the super translations are a hologram of the ingoing particles," he said. "Thus they contain all the information that would otherwise be lost."
Closing quote


Hawking's theory of black body radiation emitted from black holes, called Hawking radiation, actually provides physical information a "way out" of a black hole, in a very limited sense. The radiation picks up some of the information as it's leaving the black hole, albeit without any of its useful properties.

Opening quote
"The information about ingoing particles is returned, but in a chaotic and useless form. This resolves the information paradox. For all practical purposes, the information is lost."
Closing quote


Hawking insists that this will change the way we think about black holes, and will challenge our assumptions about our interaction with the multiverse:

Opening quote
"The message of this lecture is that black holes ain't as black as they are painted. They are not the eternal prisons they were once thought," he said. "Things can get out of a black hole both on the outside and possibly come out in another universe."
Closing quote


Hawking and his colleagues will continue to expand on this theory at the conference today, but he summed it up as follows:

Opening quote
"If you feel you are in a black hole, don't give up," he said, presumably tongue-in-cheek. "There's a way out."
Closing quote


Via New Scientist.
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