Stephen Hawking presented a new idea at a press conference in Stockholm on August 25th, to try to explain what happens to everything that falls into black holes. The information that falls into a black hole has to be stored somewhere, or it would violate a law of quantum mechanics. The fact remains, that physicists can’t agree on whether black holes are massive, three-dimensional behemoths, or just two-dimensional surfaces that are projected in 3D just like a hologram. Leonard Susskind, a physicist in the 1990s, was the first to propose that the Universe needs just two dimensions – not three – for the laws of physics and gravity to work as they should. But it was Hawking who said that what’s inside a black hole is projected on the edge of the black hole, also called the ‘horizon’, in a hologram. He says his new solution applies to every black hole in the universe and has resolved the longstanding paradox the physicists face.
Other top physicists have been reserved, saying that his idea is compelling but needs more evidence. If you fell into a black hole, you’d die. In black holes, gravity is so extremely strong, not even light can escape them. But scientists wondered if there would be any kind of remains, like ashes: could evidence that you had once existed come out of the black hole? In the 1970’s Hawking showed that black holes eventually run out of energy and die. And when that happens, we assume that all the information stored inside must be lost. But this would go against the laws of quantum mechanics: information can’t be lost.
Hawking solved the problem with other physicists by using an idea from string theory: the edge of black holes have flat, two-dimensional images, or holograms, of what’s going on inside the three-dimensional black hole. The light is stuck on the edge: it’s trying to move away from the black hole, but can’t go fast enough. It’s swimming upstream but making no progress.
via Science News