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News Picks : New study attempts to resolve black hole information paradox

By: Physics Today
29 January 2016

Nature: In the 1970s Stephen Hawking predicted that black holes are not entirely black but emit small amounts of radiation. Called Hawking radiation, it is caused by the creation and annihilation of particles near the event horizon, the point at which matter and light cannot escape the gravitational pull of the black hole. Some of the particles get sucked in, and others escape, which means they escape with some of the black hole's mass. As a side effect, the black hole will shrink over time and eventually disappear. A paradox from Hawking's theory is that information carried by particles that had fallen into the black hole would be lost forever, which breaks one of the tenets of physics: the conservation of information. Hawking and colleagues now believe they have resolved that paradox. In a recent paper, they propose that the vacuum surrounding a black hole contains soft particles in a zero-energy state. Anything falling into the black hole would be imprinted on those soft particles. That information is then transferred to the black hole via “soft hair," a quantum representation of the event horizon. The new theory has met with mixed reactions, and even Hawking and his colleagues admit that it is incomplete.

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