From Hawking, a New View of Black Holes
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.
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.