'Interstellar' Was Right: Black Holes Create Parallel Universes, Study Claims

Monday, 08 January 2018 - 10:22AM
Black Holes
Monday, 08 January 2018 - 10:22AM
'Interstellar' Was Right: Black Holes Create Parallel Universes, Study Claims
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Image credit: NASA
One of the coolest things about quantum mechanics is the way that this branch of science seems to regularly contradict all commonly held beliefs about the way the universe works.

Black holes are an excellent example of this—either these massive wells of gravitational force break the laws of physics by destroying the matter, energy, and information that they suck up, or, alternatively, they break the laws of physics by not totally consuming things that get subjected to their crushing embrace.

All the matter that goes into a black hole has to go somewhere, but where does it end up?

A new theory from a team at the California Institute of Technology attempts to marry what we know about black holes with the popular Many Worlds theory, also known as Everettian. If information that enters a black hole disappears from our reality, and if multiple realities exist, then perhaps the black holes are, in fact, creating new dimensions when they gobble up and spit out information.

In the words of Yasunori Nomura of the University of California:

Opening quote
"Previous attempts considered statements of general relativity and quantum mechanics to be applicable to the same world. My approach separates the two—quantum mechanics allows for a quantum state to be a 'superposition' of many classical worlds; statements of quantum mechanics apply to the entirety of these many worlds while those of general relativity apply only to each of these worlds."
Closing quote

It might sound a little far-fetched that a black hole might inadvertently create an entirely new dimensional plane in order to dump out its data.

In context, though, this is a fairly common notion within high-level physics: just because we can't see where something goes, it doesn't mean that it's disappeared.

If we can see the influence or impact of matter without actually seeing the matter itself, the assumption is that it must exist beyond our ability to perceive it.

We see similar theories in regular use across all of science with relation to, for example, dark matter, which has never been observed, but which leaves a notable gravitational effect nonetheless.

It's also worth noting that gravitational waves were considered purely theoretical for decades before we found a way to measure them, which instantly led to dramatic improvements in our ability to record data on distant galaxies.

Of course, with something like this, the burden of proof falls on the author of the theory, and nothing can be taken at face value. The team at the California Institute of Technology are going to have to find solid mathematical evidence to suggest that black holes are capable of generating alternate dimensions before this can become a commonly held belief among scientists.

That said, this theory does make some degree of sense, and it would go a long way to explaining how information that enters a black hole seems to cease to exist, despite this otherwise being impossible.

We're probably decades or even centuries away from even getting humanity close enough to a black hole to be able to figure out what exists inside one. It's not like we can even send a probe in when we get that close, as anything that gets sucked into a black hole would be crushed beyond recognition long before getting shot into another dimension, or whatever happens on the other side.

It's possible that we will eventually figure out this mystery for certain, but in the meantime, it's probably best to assume that whatever it's like inside a black hole, it's probably not very similar to the depiction shown in any Matthew McConaughey movie.


Black Holes