Black holes have been a much debated subject over the last decades. But the discussions never heated up as much as they did last week when Stephen Hawking and his colleagues attempted to explain a new understanding regarding black holes. The majority of the discussions were centered on the information paradox and it seems like this is the key feature that enables Hawking’s new theory.
Let’s start with the basics: what is the information paradox? Physics common knowledge basically suggests that, if we were to break anything in the Universe into bits and pieces, we would achieve something smaller than atoms: information. Information is the only unit in the Universe that cannot be destroyed. Anything can literally be destroyed, but information always remains.
But black holes are a totally different story: a black hole engulfs and destroys everything, down to the smallest particle and information is included. So this is the paradox: information cannot be destroyed, but a black hole does hold the power to destroy information. Hawking’s new understanding mentions the information paradox as being one of the core ideas that it stemmed from.
According to Hawking, black holes emanate a certain type of radiation, now called “Hawking Radiation” and that, over time, they lose all their power and disappear. It is a rather interesting conclusion since, until now, scientists were not exactly sure if black holes could meet their demise or not, only that they could grow weaker over time because there was less and less matter around for them to suck in.
But on Saturday, the researchers gathered so that they could state their conclusions about the entire black hole debate. More accurately, they gathered to state that no clear conclusion was reached but that they hope that these debates will provide great insight for the scientific generations to come, giving them additional ideas to take into consideration while studying the deadly space giants.
Some of the physicists, such as Paul Davies and Laura Mersini-Houghton, gave some details about the debates and how insightful they were, but they restated that no final conclusion was reached. Davies declared that it had been “quite an exhausting week” while Mersini-Houghton stated that, while everybody “loved talking about physics”, no final conclusion could be reached.
Mersini-Houghton also expressed some concern about the field being rather “stuck” mostly because of high research demands and miscommunication. A lot of the theories that were produced back in the ‘70s are either simply reproduced without giving any further insight or new theories emerge, without having any connection to past theories, but not giving enough insight either.
It is quite possible that black holes are going to remain an ambiguous subject, at least for the time being.
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