Hawking: 'Black Holes Ain't as Black as Painted'

Physicist claims to have solved the information paradox
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 26, 2015 6:22 AM CDT
Hawking: 'Black Holes Ain't as Black as Painted'
An artist's rendering of the black hole Cygnus X-1, which formed when a large star caved in and pulls matter from blue star beside it.   (NASA)

"If you feel you are in a black hole, don't give up. There's a way out." So says Stephen Hawking in claiming to have resolved the so-called information paradox—the seemingly irreconcilable problem of two well-accepted tenets involving black holes. Quantum mechanics dictates that the information of the physical state of objects that fall into black holes cannot be lost, while general relativity argues that it can't survive a black hole's overwhelming gravitation. Hawking contends that a third perspective could allow both theories to be simultaneously true, reports the Wall Street Journal. "Black holes ain't as black as they are painted," he said, per Al Jazeera. "They are not the eternal prisons they were once thought. Things can get out of a black hole both on the outside and possibly come out in another universe."

Information doesn't actually reach the black hole's interior, Hawking posits, but rather is stored on its boundary, the event horizon, essentially sitting on the surface as holograms (2D afterimages of a 3D object), reports Engadget. "The information about ingoing particles is returned, but in a chaotic and useless form," Hawking adds. "This resolves the information paradox. For all practical purposes, the information is lost." Hawking had maintained for decades that information could not possibly be lost, but eventually revised his assessment when his own calculations found that information appears to leak out. But not everyone is applauding. Fellow physicist Gerard ‘t Hooft, who won the Nobel Prize in 1999, says he published a paper in 1996 with a similar finding. "I claim he is now where I was 20 years ago," he tells the Journal. "If he announces this as a new idea, I won’t be thrilled." (See how Hawking ranks empathy.)

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