08/28/2015

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.

Meet the Producer

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.