This is Really What Happens to Stuff in Black Holes

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What happens to things once they’re swallowed up by black holes? The answer remains debatable. But information isn’t actually gobbled up and lost forever, despite what your high school physics teacher lead you to believe. Or at least according to Stephen Hawking it’s not.

This week at the Hawking Radiation Conference, Hawking presented his latest idea about how this “Information Paradox” can be solved. AKA how quantum-mechanical information can escape from being lost, even if it’s sucked into a black hole.

According to the general theory of relativity, or, the textbook theory everyone’s lead on to believe, physical information gobbled up by a black hole is lost forever.

As we understand them, black holes are where stars go to die and collapse under their own gravity, creating bottomless pits that swallow anything that comes too close. Not even light can escape them, since their gravitational pull is so powerful.

But Hawking says the laws of quantum mechanics suggests that the information cannot be destroyed and should be retrievable since everything in our world is encoded with quantum mechanical information.

So black holes don’t actually swallow and destroy physical information. According to Hawking, the information doesn’t ever make it inside the black hole at all. Instead, it’s permanently encoded in a 2D hologram at the surface of the black hole’s event horizon, or the point of no return.

“The idea is the super translations are a hologram of the ingoing particles,” Hawking said. “Thus they contain all the information that would otherwise be lost.”

Skeptical of this theory? Hawking offered another one for you to consider: Instead of getting compressed into a small spec of mass for the rest of eternity, you bust right through into another universe.

“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.”

I’m not sure which theory to believe. But I sure am curious of this other universe Hawking speaks of.

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