Shocking Science: There Are No Black Holes – Prof Hawking

Professor Stephen Hawking

Professor Stephen Hawking

Not everyone will be interested in this, but for those who are fascinated by science, you may want read this.

Professor Stephen Hawking has shocked the scientific community, especially physicists, by radically claiming there are no black holes.

In an article by Nature, it is reported that Hawking, who is responsible for creating the theories on what we know about black holes today, has done away with notions science has held true for almost 40 years.

He claims the event horizon – an invisible boundary covering every black hole beyond which nothing, not even light can escape – do not exist.

Instead what Hawking suggests is an “apparent horizon”, which temporarily traps matter and energy before releasing it into space.

“There is no escape from a black hole in classical theory,” Hawking told Nature. Quantum theory, however, “enables energy and information to escape from a black hole”.

Now buckle up – here’s where it all gets a bit confusing.

It was previously believed that should an astronaut be unlucky enough to fall into a black hole they would happily pass through the event horizon, being gradually pulled inward – stretched out along the way like spaghetti – and eventually crushed at the black hole’s infinitely dense core.

However, theoretical physicist Joseph Polchinski came to the conclusion that the laws of quantum mechanics would change the situation completely, turning it into a highly energetic area that would instead burn the astronaut to a crisp. But if this was the case it could dismiss Einstein’s theory of relativity. This is what’s known as the blackhole firewall paradox and it’s been puzzling scientists for years.

But now Hawking’s third theory as to what a black hole could look like has got physicists’ heads spinning.

black hole

black hole

Hawking’s new suggestion is that the apparent horizon is the real boundary. “The absence of event horizons means that there are no black holes – in the sense of regimes from which light can’t escape to infinity,” Hawking writes.

Polchinski, however, is sceptical that black holes without an event horizon could exist in nature, “the kind of violent fluctuations needed to erase it are too rare in the Universe,” he says.

If you’ve managed to understand any of this, we applaud you. While we won’t even pretend to get our own heads around it some scientists have and explain how this revelation “highlights how abhorrent physicists find the potential existence of firewalls.”

Raphael Bousso, a theoretical physicist and former student of Hawking’s states: “the idea that there are no points from which you cannot escape a black hole is in some ways an even more radical and problematic suggestion than the existence of firewalls,” he says. “But the fact that we’re still discussing such questions 40 years after Hawking’s first papers on black holes and information is testament to their enormous significance.” [AAP]


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