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Space Science

Stephen Hawking: 'There Are No Black Holes' 458

ananyo writes "Stephen Hawking has proposed a new solution to the black-hole firewall paradox, which has been vexing physicists for almost two years. The paradox troubles physicists because if the firewall scenario is correct, Einstein's general theory of relativity is flouted. But the classical theory black hole cannot be reconciled to the quantum mechanical prediction that energy and information can escape from a black hole. Now Hawking has proposed a tantalizingly simple solution to the paradox which allows both quantum mechanics and general relativity to remain intact — black holes simply do not have an event horizon to catch fire. The key to his claim is that quantum effects around the black hole cause spacetime to fluctuate too wildly for a sharp boundary surface to exist. As Hawking writes in his paper, 'The absence of event horizons mean that there are no black holes — in the sense of regimes from which light can't escape to infinity.'"
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Stephen Hawking: 'There Are No Black Holes'

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  • Science! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Sponge Bath ( 413667 ) on Friday January 24, 2014 @09:56AM (#46055549)

    Hawking: ...this means, in a sense, that there are no black holes. Only what I call "Hawking surfaces".
    Layman: Does this mean it's possible to travel faster than the speed of light?
    Hawking: Sure, why not.

    • Re:Science! (Score:5, Funny)

      by Big Hairy Ian ( 1155547 ) on Friday January 24, 2014 @11:05AM (#46056213)
      Right 1st "Black Holes exist"

      Now Black Holes don't exist

      *Kicks cat back into box and starts again!*

      • There are no black holes until we find one. All we have so far is that we ran out of alternative ideas, so we assume the supermassive compact object in the centers of galaxies are black holes. That is actually not quite true, there is an alternative to general relativity in the vicinity of black holes:
        http://www.worldscientific.com... [worldscientific.com]

        Wait for the results of the Event Horizon Telescope this/next year. Then we will know which one is right: http://www.eventhorizontelesco... [eventhoriz...escope.org]

  • by stewsters ( 1406737 ) on Friday January 24, 2014 @09:56AM (#46055555)
    Do not try to reconcile the event horizon. That's impossible. Instead only try to realize the truth. There is no black hole.
  • by atouk ( 1336461 ) on Friday January 24, 2014 @09:59AM (#46055569)
    Does that mean that he gets his $100 back he lost to John Preskill?
  • by lesincompetent ( 2836253 ) on Friday January 24, 2014 @10:00AM (#46055583)
    That's it, science has failed once again. I'm going back to christianity.
    • I don't get it... That's like saying, "That's it, McDonalds has failed once again. I'm going back to brushing my teeth."

      • by ElectricTurtle ( 1171201 ) on Friday January 24, 2014 @10:52AM (#46056037)
    • by K. S. Kyosuke ( 729550 ) on Friday January 24, 2014 @10:50AM (#46056017)
      Science is like comments on Slashdot. First you get modded +5 Insightful for saying something and then you get modded +5 Informative for replying to yourself that you were actually wrong.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Christianity is not opposed to science. Please stop propagating this incorrect view. Go ahead and take issue with individuals who oppose science for personal or religious reasons, but it's plain ignorance to generalize.

      When I hear people say things like this, it instantly raises a red flag to be cautious of what so-called reasoning and observations this person attempts to convey. Is it possible that their lack of reasoning and failure to observe reality cloud their other assessments as well?

      • by SirGarlon ( 845873 ) on Friday January 24, 2014 @11:38AM (#46056667)

        There is huge variety within the Christian religion. Quaker, Roman Catholic, Pentacostal, Amish, Russian Orthodox, Mormon, Coptic, Presbyterian, Christian Scientist, and the newer "non-demoninational" churches all count. It's really hard to characterize them all beyond the very basics.

        There are certainly people who call themselves Christian, and reject science. There are also people who call themselves American, and reject religion. It's no more accurate to say Christians are opposed to science than to say Americans are opposed to religion.

    • by trongey ( 21550 )

      That's it, science has failed once again. I'm going back to christianity.

      You should try both. That way you're always covered.

  • Does it exist or not?

    • The spoon both exists and does not exist- but only until you open the silverware drawer.

    • by Evtim ( 1022085 )

      Look, philosophers and the like say that there is no spoon, just the concept of a spoon. But somehow no one ever says that the soup is an illusion or just a mere concept... [borrowed shamelessly from T.Pratchett]

  • Or maybe (Score:5, Interesting)

    by symbolset ( 646467 ) * on Friday January 24, 2014 @10:03AM (#46055613) Journal
    The event horizon oscillates faster than the speed of light over a greater distance than quantum tunneling can occur. Inbound light would follow the wavefront in, only to become trapped as the next wave built outside its escape range.
    • Re:Or maybe (Score:5, Funny)

      by EvilSS ( 557649 ) on Friday January 24, 2014 @11:23AM (#46056431)
      No, at least according to Occam's browser plugin which states that any scientific theory first proposed in the comment section of a website is probably complete crap.
      • No, at least according to Occam's browser plugin which states that any scientific theory first proposed in the comment section of a website is probably complete crap.

        Or in this case, the second one, which follows herein forthwith.

        Maybe black holes distort gravity severely but end up distorting space so badly they twist it right 'round where it was, essentially making the black holes invisible but appearing to have mass. Hey! I discovered what all the Dark Matter is! (waits for Nobel Committee to call...)

    • I don't know much about physics, but it seems to me that every nice little summary like "Black holes don't exist" come from math that I can't even look at without getting dizzy.

      I suspect you could come up with any number of conjectures without doing the math.

      "Your theory of a donut-shaped universe is intriguing, Homer. I may have to steal it."
      Stephen Hawking
  • by Akratist ( 1080775 ) on Friday January 24, 2014 @10:03AM (#46055619)
    My sense, in reading a considerable number of articles about astrophysics, etc, is that we are in a period which is awaiting the next big breakthrough in knowledge, along the lines of what Newton and Einstein produced. There are still too many unknowns and ambiguities that need to be resolved by discovering a piece of the puzzle which we don't even know exists yet, and I think people are still trying to get their heads wrapped about quantum physics. That said, I'm not a physicist, just an interested lay person, so I may be wrong in that summation, but it seems many of the discussions occurring these days at least pay a backhanded nod to that sort of notion.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bunratty ( 545641 )
      There's also a discrepancy involving the size of the proton. Measuring the size two different ways gives two different results, which is unpossible. There must be something going on during these experiments that we don't understand yet.
    • How long, I wonder, shall we have to wait? There was rapid scientific progress in the 19th and 20th centuries, but when looking at the longer timescales, that is an aberration. For most of history technological progress was slow and rare, and the next millenium may just as likely to be similar to the 500-1500 period, when nothing much happened.

    • I think you are right.

      If you can remember some of your calculus, you might be able to follow the idea from this guy.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... [youtube.com]

      Gravity distorts Space.
      Gravity Might also distort time. (His theory)

      Even if you think it's a load of bull, it seems to solve a lot of shit!

  • by PvtVoid ( 1252388 ) on Friday January 24, 2014 @10:03AM (#46055621)
    In this picture, there would still be astrophysical black holes in every meaningful sense of the word, i.e. condensed objects from which light would not escape. Such objects would have an "apparent horizon", which can be defined locally by the property that all lightlike geodesics are ingoing.

    What these black-hole-like objects would not have is an Event Horizon, which is a global property of the spacetime, and is only defined by the behavior at asymptotic infinity. It's a neat resolution of the whole mess: way more sensible than firewalls.

    But it's still just hand-waving -- note that the entire argument relies on AdS/CFT, which assumes the black holes are embedded in de Sitter space, which has a negative cosmological constant and is most definitely not the kind of spacetime we live in. And AdS/CFT is itself an unproven conjecture, although it is supported by many specific example cases. Until somebody comes up with a theory of quantum gravity, this stuff is all guesswork. Caveat emptor.
  • The actual paper (Score:5, Informative)

    by JoshuaZ ( 1134087 ) on Friday January 24, 2014 @10:08AM (#46055657) Homepage
    The actual paper can be found here: http://arxiv.org/abs/1401.5761 [arxiv.org]. People have suggested informally ideas somewhat similar to this one before, but Hawking proposal seems to actually have the math behind it. Possibly most importantly, he can show that his predictions are a consequence of gauge/gravity duality http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AdS/CFT_correspondence [wikipedia.org]. This suggests that this may be a testale consequence of certain string theories if one could observe a black hole under the right conditions and see that it only was pretending to be a black hole.
  • Now my head is going to hurt all day.
  • by wcrowe ( 94389 ) on Friday January 24, 2014 @10:19AM (#46055749)

    It means all these business idiots will stop saying "event horizon".

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 24, 2014 @10:42AM (#46055895)

      Now we need another world-famous scientist to publish a paper claiming that there is no such thing as "leveraging our core competencies to provide added value to our internal and external customers within the new paradigms posed by cloud services" and I can die a happy man!

  • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Friday January 24, 2014 @10:36AM (#46055843)

    That is an elegant solution that is far more consistent than the "absolute" limits so loved by many. It also points out that our understanding of Quantum Mechanics in reality (as opposed to theory) is pretty incomplete and fuzzy.

  • by jzarling ( 600712 ) on Friday January 24, 2014 @10:44AM (#46055925)
    ...because he calls them Hawking Holes!
  • by wonkey_monkey ( 2592601 ) on Friday January 24, 2014 @10:55AM (#46056075) Homepage

    I've always wondered why there had to be a singularity at the centre of a black hole. Now, it seems, there might not be!

    If Hawking is correct, there could even be no singularity at the core of the black hole. Instead, matter [...] never quite crunch down to the centre.

    I've been trying to tell people this for years (no, not in a serious crackpot physicist way, just a vague pet idea). Should've tried it with a voice synthesizer...

  • Please look at this paper [arxiv.org], as well as to the other papers published by prof. Loinger.
  • by fredrated ( 639554 ) on Friday January 24, 2014 @11:27AM (#46056489) Journal

    - Black Hole

  • Hawking is opening the door to a scenario so extreme "that anything in principle can get out of a black hole"

    What? And no one has mentioned the Heechee yet?

  • Once physicists realized the speed of light was finite, you could conceive of density and radius that exceeded the speed of light. Einsteins special realtivity showed that Maxwells equations implied light speed as a maximal speed in the universe, so this radius then became a barrier.

"Mach was the greatest intellectual fraud in the last ten years." "What about X?" "I said `intellectual'." ;login, 9/1990