Stephen Hawking: There May Be a Way Out of a Black Hole

Posted August 26th, 2015 at 4:59 pm (UTC-4)
5 comments

Nobel physics laureate Gerard 't Hooft, of Utrecht University, the Netherlands, confers with Stephen Hawking after the Cambridge professor presented his solution to the information loss paradox. Hawking is in town for a weeklong conference on the information loss paradox, which is co-hosted by Nordita at KTH Royal Institute of Technology. (Håkan Lindgren/KTH Royal Institute of Technology)

Nobel physics laureate Gerard ‘t Hooft, of Utrecht University, the Netherlands, confers with Stephen Hawking after the Cambridge professor presented his solution to the information loss paradox. Hawking is in town for a weeklong conference on the information loss paradox, which is co-hosted by Nordita at KTH Royal Institute of Technology. (Håkan Lindgren/KTH Royal Institute of Technology)

Yesterday, renowned physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking, speaking to attendees of a conference being held at Sweden’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology, proposed a new idea that addresses a forty-year old cosmological mystery called the Black Hole Information Paradox.

Simply put, the basis for the paradox is the conflict between quantum mechanics and the theory of general relativity. In involves the fate of the physical information of an object once it enters a black hole.

The theory of general relativity suggests that this information would be permanently destroyed and lost after entering the black hole.  However this theory would actually violate the laws of quantum mechanics that information cannot be lost.

Hawking told the conference attendees that rather than actually swallowing and destroying this information, a black hole at its event horizon – the boundary where its gravitational pull becomes so great that nothing, not even light, can escape – encodes it within two dimensional holograms, called super translations.

A computer-generated image of the light distortions created by a black hole. (Credit: Alain Riazuelo, IAP/UPMC/CNRS)

A computer-generated image of the light distortions created by a black hole. (Credit: Alain Riazuelo, IAP/UPMC/CNRS)

“The idea is the super translations are a hologram of the ingoing particles,” said Hawking in a press release from the KTH Royal Institute of Technology. “Thus they contain all the information that would otherwise be lost.”

Hawking said that the information is emitted within quantum fluctuations – short variations in the level of energy within a point in space that are produced by black holes.  However, this form of information, according to Hawking, is in a “chaotic, useless form.” “For all practical purposes the information is lost,” he said.

While it’s generally thought that nothing can escape the powerful gravity of a black hole, Hawking, during an earlier lecture, suggested that the remaining information may have a way out.

“The existence of alternative histories with black holes suggests this might be possible,” Hawking said. “The hole would need to be large and if it was rotating it might have a passage to another universe. But you couldn’t come back to our universe,” he said.

(KTH Royal Institute of Technology)
Rick Pantaleo
Rick Pantaleo maintains the Science World blog and writes stories for VOA’s web and radio on a variety of science, technology and health topics. He also occasionally appears on various VOA programs to talk about the latest scientific news. Rick joined VOA in 1992 after a 20 year career in commercial broadcasting.

5 responses to “Stephen Hawking: There May Be a Way Out of a Black Hole”

  1. Drew Palmer says:

    This is decade old news he just repeated from the speech in Berlin 24 Aug 2005.

  2. Rob says:

    Yeah Stevie, I watched Interstellar as well. This seems vaguely familiar with your naming of the Hawking hole, AKA, “Fry-Hole”
    http://theinfosphere.org/Fry-hole

    I see a trend…. : )

  3. Paul Young says:

    For Stephen Hawking or any other physicist to use the term “information” without defining it in scientific terms is meaningless. There is no known scientific definition of the term “information, other than that embodied in my book, The Nature of Information (thenatureofinformation.net). I respectfully suggest Dr. Hawking read the book before making unproven and unprovable pronouncements about “information.” What is information, is a question that must be asked and answered.

  4. Chris c says:

    Surely the idea of ‘information’ is the problem. What is it? One can break matter down to its particles but in a black hole the particles then break down unit constituent parts, and who knows what they are? A black hole could rip matter into one dimensional strings which are still constituent information. It seems to me the approach is all wrong. Information about the original matter need not be retained. One can’t see the larger form of matter from a smaller part. It only works the other way round. Thus we need to unwind there is any base particle. We can the the energy is expelled. The matter may not exist at all.

  5. Barrie Taylor says:

    so a black hole might be a passage to another universe. Long long ago Job (see the Old Testament book) contemplating the vastness of the universe put it like this “and these are but the outer fringes of his (God’s) works. Looks like the Prof is on catch up.