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.
“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)