Friday, July 16, 2004

Black holes and you

Earlier post in which hawking was mentioned

In the 1970s, Hawking said that once a black hole formed it lost mass by radiating energy, known as "Hawking radiation," but it contained no information about the inside matter and once the hole evaporated, all information was lost.

This however, created a paradox, since the laws of quantum physics assert such information can never be completely wiped out.

Hawking responded that the gravitational pull of black holes was so strong, it unraveled the laws of quantum physics. But that argument failed to convince skeptics in the scientific community.

He will now argue that the black holes never quite shut themselves off completely and, as they emit more heat, they eventually open up and release information.

The possible solution to the paradox has sent waves of excitement through the physics community.

"He sent a note saying: 'I have solved the black hole information paradox and I want to talk about it,"' organizer and physicist Curt Cutler told the New Scientist.

"I haven't seen a preprint (of the paper). To be quite honest I went on Hawking's reputation."

From what I know Hawking pretty much defined the way black holes interact with us on paper before we really had any good observations of them. I would go on his reputation also.


How could that information ever escape? The answer lies in one of Hawking's greatest discoveries: that black holes slowly evaporate into space by losing particles from the very edge of the gravitational precipice at their rim, called Hawking radiation. The black hole eventually shrinks to a tiny kernel, at which point a growing torrent of radiation begins to leak out, potentially carrying the lost information with it.

But Preskill says that Hawking's new take on quantum gravity rests on shaky mathematical foundations, and is unlikely to be embraced by the physics community. "I am skeptical about whether he has found a fully satisfactory resolution to the problem," he says.

Dude don't bet against the Hawk.


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