Physicist Rethinks Theory on Black Holes

Added July 21, 2004 My comments added in paragraphs in italics.


DUBLIN, Ireland - After 29 years of thinking about it, Stephen Hawking says he was wrong about black holes. The renowned Cambridge University physicist formally presented a paper at the 17th International Conference on General Relativity and Gravitation arguing that black holes, the celestial vortexes formed from collapsed stars, preserve traces of objects swallowed up and eventually could spit bits out "in a mangled form." Hawking presented mind-boggling new calculations that suggest black holes are able to cast out their contents - and that there's only one way in and one way out. Hawking now sides with particle physicists who have long insisted that any matter swallowed by a black hole can't just disappear but must eventually generate a specific output. The latest theory offers hope that scientists one day may identify the history of what a black hole has taken in over the eons - by decoding what it emits.

Hawking shot to international fame in 1988 with his best-selling book "A Brief History of Time," which sought to explain to a general audience the most complex aspects of the universe. He had already been famous in physics circles since the mid-1970s, when he postulated that black holes could eventually evaporate and disappear, emitting radiation as they die. That radiation has been named "Hawking radiation" in his honor.

I have never believed in the idea of miniature black holes that could evaporate. Black holes are by definition massive.

Hawking's radical new theory caps his three-decade struggle to explain a paradox (?) in scientific thinking: How can objects really "disappear" inside a black hole and leave no trace, as he long believed, when subatomic theory says matter can be transformed but never fully destroyed? Hawking had previously insisted that black holes destroy all molecular fingerprints of their contents and emit only a generic form of radiation. Hawking said he no longer believes a 1980s theory that black holes might offer passage into another universe, a rival explanation for identifying where matter and energy go when consumed by a black hole.

Sorry, but there aren't any "Worm Holes" to new places far away! They are all "Dead Ends"!

"There is no baby universe branching off (inside a black hole), as I once thought. The information remains firmly in our universe. I'm sorry to disappoint science fiction fans, but if information is preserved, there is no possibility of using black holes to travel to other universes. If you jump into a black hole, your mass energy will be returned to our universe, but in a mangled form, which contains the information about what you were like, but in an unrecognizable state."

Hawking's new theory produced waves of skepticism and puzzlement from leading physics professors. "Hawking is completely revising his prior belief that what goes into a black hole is washed out. Now he believes that anything emitted from a black hole can be identifiable back to its source," said Robert Wald of the University of Chicago, an expert on black holes. "He's running away from what we still believe." William Unruh of the University of British Columbia said: "Part of the problem is he's providing so few details, so it's impossible to know whether we can believe these calculations. Stephen Hawking's not stupid, so we're going to take what he says seriously ... but the whole theory we're hearing seems extremely speculative."

Well respected Scientists would still rather believe their mathematics than believe their eyes!