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Did Stephen Hawking Just Solve Black Holes’ Information Paradox?

At a week-long conference on black holes in Stockholm, Sweden today, famed theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking elaborated on his theory that would ostensibly solve a grand dilemma in physics: the Information Paradox. It states that information associated with matter should be destroyed if it encounters a black hole’s dreaded singularity, but information as we know it can’t truly be destroyed. Information about matter falling into a black hole must then be retained, but how?

Below, I try my best outline Hawking’s new theory on how “the information about ingoing particles is returned, but in a chaotic and useless form”:

According to Hawking, the quantum information about the three-dimensional matter that falls into black holes would be preserved as two-dimensional holograms on the surface of the hole’s event horizon (woah, dude). “The idea is the super translations are a hologram of the ingoing particles,” said Hawking. “Thus they contain all the information that would otherwise be lost.”

But how does the information get back out? According to Hawking, via his namesake radiation. Hawking radiation — black holes can lose mass as quantum phenomena on the edge of the event horizon lets energy, and therefore mass, escape its gravitational grip — would in theory return scrambled information back to the universe as a black hole evaporated over trillions of years.

You can watch the full talk by Hawking himself in the video below:

HT: The Washington Post

IMAGE: Bruno Vincent/Getty Images

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