From Hawking, a New View of Black Holes

6:38 minutes

Stephen Hawking at the Hawking Radiation conference held at KTH Royal Institute of Technology. Photo by Håkan Lindgren
Stephen Hawking at the Hawking Radiation conference held at KTH Royal Institute of Technology. Photo by Håkan Lindgren

Earlier this week, famed physicist Stephen Hawking gave a brief talk at a conference at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden. In it, Hawking outlined some ideas that could resolve a paradox of black hole theory.  Information entering a black hole may not be truly lost, he suggested. Instead, that information could still exist in a sort of hologram on the black hole’s event horizon. But this doesn’t mean you should design your next information-storage service around the use of black holes. “For all practical purposes, the information is lost,” Hawking said—that is, it exists “in a chaotic and useless form.” Theoretical physicist Sean Carroll of CalTech says that there’s no way to test Hawking’s thought experiment, but that once fleshed out further, it could be a new way of thinking about how the quantum world might function.

Segment Guests

Sean Carroll

Sean Carroll is a cosmologist and physics professor specializing in dark energy and general relativity. He is a research professor in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. His latest book is The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself. (Dutton, 2016) He’s based in Los Angeles, California.

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About Charles Bergquist

As Science Friday’s director, Charles Bergquist channels the chaos of a live production studio into something sounding like a radio program. Favorite topics include planetary sciences, chemistry, materials, and shiny things with blinking lights.

  • Jaime

    Has anyone ever considered, that dark matter (or what ever the unknown mass present in the universe might be) could in fact be material from just before the big bang, that did not achieve combustion (or what ever force transmuted that material into what exists in our universe today), but was dispersed throughout the universe as very, very, very dense dust? I could conceive a dust spec having the gravitational effect of a star. That would assume that pre big bang material would even be subject to our laws of physics or gravity. Could it exist subject to rules of existence that were present before the Big Bang?

    • JBdisqusblip


  • ramamohan eachempati

    It is a reasonable concept compared to apparently logical conclusion that the whole universe emerged from a singular point with infinite density of what ( matter or energy ) without the existence of any conceivable matter around the singular point. Assuming that the dark matter existed even before the Big Bang which resulted in the visible universe, it is reasonable to conclude that there could be any number of singular points in the dark matter media which can explode like Big Bang under right circumstances which in a way support the concept of the existence of multi universes.

    • JBdisqusblip

      This fits beside a notion of mine along the lines of multiverse, with dimensional ‘bleed-over’ effects from co-existing universes with similar dimensions (weakly?) interacting based on the similarities.

  • JBdisqusblip

    As with all discussions of ‘Black Holes’, the time based process of formation from a collapsing star, usually ignores the effects of gravity vs C, and the way matter would be distributed near & inside the event horizon. Remember that an object in a hole thru the center of the earth is ‘weightless’ in that its acceleration as it fell there approached zero as the earth surrounded it. So think about how distributed mass & time are affected during the formation of the event horizon around them. Think about how gravity will propagate within the extreme time & mass flows. The molasses mixmaster that is the shell of a BH might not be a singularity, but just a telescoping of time focused on a basketball.
    (Objects in orbit are not weightless, they are in free-fall because of their weight & inertia.)