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INFORMATION PARADOX SOLVED? IF SO, BLACK HOLES ARE "FUZZBALLS"
Ohio State University ^ | 3/1/04 | Pam Frost Gorder

Posted on 03/01/2004 9:21:01 AM PST by AdmSmith

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Stephen Hawking and Kip Thorne may owe John Preskill a set of encyclopedias.

In 1997, the three cosmologists made a famous bet as to whether information that enters a black hole ceases to exist -- that is, whether the interior of a black hole is changed at all by the characteristics of particles that enter it.

Hawking's research suggested that the particles have no effect whatsoever. But his theory violated the laws of quantum mechanics and created a contradiction known as the "information paradox."

Now physicists at Ohio State University have proposed a solution using string theory, a theory which holds that all particles in the universe are made of tiny vibrating strings.

Samir Mathur and his colleagues have derived an extensive set of equations that strongly suggest that the information continues to exist -- bound up in a giant tangle of strings that fills a black hole from its core to its surface.

The finding suggests that black holes are not smooth, featureless entities as scientists have long thought.

Instead, they are stringy "fuzzballs."

Mathur, professor of physics at Ohio State, suspects that Hawking and Thorne won?t be particularly surprised by the outcome of the study, which appears in the March 1 issue of the journal Nuclear Physics B.

In their wager, Hawking, professor of mathematics at the University of Cambridge, and Thorne, professor of theoretical physics at Caltech, bet that information that enters a black hole is destroyed, while Preskill -- also a professor of theoretical physics at Caltech -- took the opposite view. The stakes were a set of encyclopedias.

"I think that most people gave up on the idea that information was destroyed once the idea of string theory rose to prominence in 1995, Mathur said. "It?s just that nobody has been able to prove that the information survives before now."

In the classical model of how black holes form, a supermassive object, such as a giant star, collapses to form a very small point of infinite gravity, called a singularity. A special region in space surrounds the singularity, and any object that crosses the region?s border, known as the event horizon, is pulled into the black hole, never to return.

In theory, not even light can escape from a black hole.

The diameter of the event horizon depends on the mass of the object that formed it. For instance, if the sun collapsed into a singularity, its event horizon would measure approximately 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) across. If Earth followed suit, its event horizon would only measure 1 centimeter (0.4 inches).

As to what lies in the region between a singularity and its event horizon, physicists have always drawn a blank, literally. No matter what type of material formed the singularity, the area inside the event horizon was supposed to be devoid of any structure or measurable characteristics.

And therein lies the problem.

"The problem with the classical theory is that you could use any combination of particles to make the black hole -- protons, electrons, stars, planets, whatever -- and it would make no difference. There must be billions of ways to make a black hole, yet with the classical model the final state of the system is always the same," Mathur said.

That kind of uniformity violates the quantum mechanical law of reversibility, he explained. Physicists must be able to trace the end product of any process, including the process that makes a black hole, back to the conditions that created it.

If all black holes are the same, then no black hole can be traced back to its unique beginning, and any information about the particles that created it is lost forever at the moment the hole forms.

"Nobody really believes that now, but nobody could ever find anything wrong with the classical argument, either," Mathur said. "We can now propose what went wrong."

In 2000, string theorists named the information paradox number eight on their top-ten list of physics problems to be solved during the next millennium. That list included questions such as "what is the lifetime of a proton?" and "how can quantum gravity help explain the origin of the universe?"

Mathur began working on the information paradox when he was an assistant professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and he attacked the problem full time after joining the Ohio State faculty in 2000.

With postdoctoral researcher Oleg Lunin, Mathur computed the structure of objects that lie in-between simple string states and large classical black holes. Instead of being tiny objects, they turned out to be large. Recently, he and two doctoral students -- Ashish Saxena and Yogesh Srivastava -- found that the same picture of a "fuzzball" continued to hold true for objects more closely resembling a classic black hole. Those new results appear in Nuclear Physics B.

According to string theory, all the fundamental particles of the universe -- protons, neutrons, and electrons -- are made of different combinations of strings. But as tiny as strings are, Mathur believes they can form large black holes through a phenomenon called fractional tension.

Strings are stretchable, he said, but each carries a certain amount of tension, as does a guitar string. With fractional tension, the tension decreases as the string gets longer.

Just as a long guitar string is easier to pluck than a short guitar string, a long strand of quantum mechanical strings joined together is easier to stretch than a single string, Mathur said.

So when a great many strings join together, as they would in order to form the many particles necessary for a very massive object like a black hole, the combined ball of string is very stretchy, and expands to a wide diameter.

When the Ohio State physicists derived their formula for the diameter of a fuzzy black hole made of strings, they found that it matched the diameter of the black hole event horizon suggested by the classical model.

Since Mathur?s conjecture suggests that strings continue to exist inside the black hole, and the nature of the strings depends on the particles that made up the original source material, then each black hole is as unique as are the stars, planets, or galaxy that formed it. The strings from any subsequent material that enters the black hole would remain traceable as well.

That means a black hole can be traced back to its original conditions, and information survives.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News
KEYWORDS: hawking; physics; science; stringtheory
This is probably not the final verdict, as the calculations are based on the assumption that string theory is OK.
1 posted on 03/01/2004 9:21:02 AM PST by AdmSmith
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To: RadioAstronomer; Physicist; PatrickHenry
Strings anyone?
2 posted on 03/01/2004 9:22:14 AM PST by AdmSmith
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To: AdmSmith
So, you're telling me that Rush is a "lovable little black hole"?
3 posted on 03/01/2004 9:23:23 AM PST by b4its2late (I saw a woman wearing a sweat shirt with "Guess" on it. So I said "Implants?" She hit me.)
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To: AdmSmith

Illustration of Black Hole with Accretion Disk and Torus. An artist's conception shows a black hole surrounded by a disk of hot gas, and a large doughnut or torus of cooler gas and dust. The light blue ring on the back of the torus is due to the fluorescence of iron atoms excited by X-rays from the hot gas disk.
(Illustration: CXC/M.Weiss) Source: http://chandra.harvard.edu/resources/illustrations/blackholes.html.

4 posted on 03/01/2004 9:25:40 AM PST by AdmSmith
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To: AdmSmith; Charles Henrickson; Tijeras_Slim
Now physicists at Ohio State University have proposed a solution using string theory, a theory which holds that all particles in the universe are made of tiny vibrating strings.

This explains the whining I hear allll dayyyyy looooong.

5 posted on 03/01/2004 9:26:59 AM PST by martin_fierro (Funky Homo Sapien)
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To: AdmSmith
SPOTREP - WORLDVIEW - INFORMATION
6 posted on 03/01/2004 9:33:25 AM PST by LiteKeeper
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To: AdmSmith
wow Bump

Nice shot from Chandra. thanks
7 posted on 03/01/2004 9:33:44 AM PST by NormsRevenge (Semper Fi Mac ... Support Our Troops! ... NO NO NO NO on Props 55-58)
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To: AdmSmith
Eye of Sauron bump!
8 posted on 03/01/2004 9:34:44 AM PST by ClearCase_guy (You can see it coming like a train on a track.)
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To: AdmSmith
Black holes are the information which comprise them, like everything else in the universe.
9 posted on 03/01/2004 9:44:26 AM PST by onedoug
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To: AdmSmith
Don't go there.
10 posted on 03/01/2004 9:45:47 AM PST by coloradan (Hence, etc.)
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To: AdmSmith
I wonder what the Loopers are going to say about this.
11 posted on 03/01/2004 9:47:16 AM PST by mjp
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To: AdmSmith
Interesting.
12 posted on 03/01/2004 9:49:12 AM PST by farmfriend ( Isaiah 55:10,11)
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To: AdmSmith
Today everyone seems to think that everything is knowable.

I wish Richard Feynman was here to remind us that "that is something no one knows".

Of course, the trend to know things that are unknowable seems to be spreading - global warming is a good example - it can only be a theory because there isn't a way to constrain an experiment to one variable unless you have a spare earth.

Those silly enough to believe "computer models prove ..." will be punished by their self inflicted consequences.
13 posted on 03/01/2004 9:52:35 AM PST by paulk
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To: AdmSmith
This is all Bush's fault somehow.
14 posted on 03/01/2004 9:54:39 AM PST by chance33_98 (Check out profile page for banners, if you need one freepmail me and I will make one for you)
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To: NormsRevenge
To be fair, that's an artists's conception of a black hole. Sort of like how Johnny Deep is an artist's conception of me.
15 posted on 03/01/2004 10:05:49 AM PST by lelio
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To: AdmSmith

Instead, they are stringy "fuzzballs."

Gee I got a couple of them things out in my garage. Think they might be dangerous????

Outlaw fuzzballs and only criminals will have fuzzballs.

16 posted on 03/01/2004 10:06:38 AM PST by ancient_geezer (Equality, the French disease: Everyone is equal beneath the guillotine.)
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To: lelio
I knew I'd get dinged after I saw it myself, congrats! ;-] lol

Reality gets all kinds of fuzzy the longer one sits staring at thousands of pixels too long.

Love that Chandra scope. Damn good investment in science.

17 posted on 03/01/2004 10:15:47 AM PST by NormsRevenge (Semper Fi Mac ... Support Our Troops! ... NO NO NO NO on Props 55-58)
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To: AdmSmith
We cannot rely on string theory alone, because it excludes brass, woodwinds and percussion. In a politically correct universe, we must cherish diversity...
18 posted on 03/01/2004 10:40:16 AM PST by talleyman (Caviar emptor (a warning from the sturgeon general))
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To: AdmSmith
Ah, yes, the old "How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?" question. It is nice that so many have so much time for so much frivolity.
19 posted on 03/01/2004 10:45:28 AM PST by Iris7 (Lies are to deceive the enemy. All you lie to, especially yourself, are your enemies.)
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To: talleyman
The score to "Psycho" shows what happens when brass, woodwinds, and percussion are ignored.
20 posted on 03/01/2004 10:49:42 AM PST by Doctor Stochastic (Vegetabilisch = chaotisch is der Charakter der Modernen. - Friedrich Schlegel)
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To: AdmSmith
What if the distance between the event horizon and the black hole's "surface" is variable depending on mass of the initiating object and or how much mass it has accumulated?
21 posted on 03/01/2004 10:53:00 AM PST by Darksheare (Fortune for today: Magicians' flash powder isn't an effective nasal decongestant)
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To: longshadow; Junior; VadeRetro; LogicWings; Doctor Stochastic; js1138; RightWhale; Condorman; ...
Ping (limited list for this one).
22 posted on 03/01/2004 11:06:04 AM PST by PatrickHenry (A compassionate evolutionist.)
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To: All
fyi, Hawking is in hospital (again):
http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/s1052517.htm
23 posted on 03/01/2004 11:10:55 AM PST by whattajoke
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To: Darksheare
Ashley Judd, in a pretty good flick, Normal Life, fantasizes about death by entering the event horizon of a black hole and being trapped in an eternal moment.
24 posted on 03/01/2004 11:16:47 AM PST by NutCrackerBoy
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To: AdmSmith
Someone seems to have vagina envy.
25 posted on 03/01/2004 11:21:18 AM PST by rogueleader
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To: NutCrackerBoy
Trapped in an eternal moment.
*shudder*
I think I'll pass on that.
*chuckle*
26 posted on 03/01/2004 11:27:06 AM PST by Darksheare (Fortune for today: Magicians' flash powder isn't an effective nasal decongestant)
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To: AdmSmith

articles like this make me feel a warm and fuzzey?
27 posted on 03/01/2004 11:40:35 AM PST by kt56
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To: Darksheare
What if the distance between the event horizon and the black hole's "surface" is variable depending on mass of the initiating object and or how much mass it has accumulated?

It is.

28 posted on 03/01/2004 11:40:48 AM PST by Doctor Stochastic (Vegetabilisch = chaotisch is der Charakter der Modernen. - Friedrich Schlegel)
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To: Doctor Stochastic
Hmm..
29 posted on 03/01/2004 11:46:17 AM PST by Darksheare (Fortune for today: Magicians' flash powder isn't an effective nasal decongestant)
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To: AdmSmith

It is a little-known fact that, when they are not out troll-hunting, the Viking Kitties are excellent theoretical phyisicists. They knew this stuff eons ago....

30 posted on 03/01/2004 11:53:29 AM PST by r9etb
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To: rogueleader
Someone seems to have vagina envy.

Sounds to me like a possible "penile enlargement" technique. Of course, you wouldn't want to penetrate past the event horizon -- imagine the embarrassment of having to wear your partner to work....

31 posted on 03/01/2004 11:57:53 AM PST by r9etb
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To: AdmSmith
If the Information Paradox is indeed explained through String Theory, what does that mean for Loop Quantum Gravity?
32 posted on 03/01/2004 1:03:57 PM PST by GeraldP (Feja e shqiptarit eshte Shqiptaria)
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To: GeraldP
... and does it affect the Holographic Principle?
33 posted on 03/01/2004 1:06:44 PM PST by GeraldP (Feja e shqiptarit eshte Shqiptaria)
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To: Doctor Stochastic
It is.

I was gonna say exactly that, but it seemed so simple that I was afraid I might be missing something.

In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty.
-- Emerson, Self Reliance

34 posted on 03/01/2004 1:07:53 PM PST by PatrickHenry (A compassionate evolutionist.)
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To: AdmSmith
So much for that old saying, "a black hole has no hair"
35 posted on 03/01/2004 8:00:44 PM PST by RightWingAtheist
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To: RightWingAtheist
It was refuted earlier, see for example:
http://www.ucd.ie/math-phy/ppbh.html

Black Holes are predicted by the theory of General Relativity of Einstein. It was conjectured that Black Holes are uniquely determined by their mass, angular momentum and electric and magnetic charges. This conjecture - called "no-hair" theorem - was proved rigorously in some cases, but not in general. Surprisingly, it turned out that the "no-hair" theorem is not valid, if the Black Hole is coupled to fields with non-linear interactions. Since than self-gravitating non-linear fields where studied intensively. It was found that the coupling to gravity allows for many more solutions, which are not present in the non-gravitating case. This includes gravitationally excited magnetic monopoles, multimonopoles and monopole-antimonopole pairs.

Also new Black Hole solutions where found recently, which are static and possess only axial symmetry. The investigation of the black holes with "hair" promisses exciting new results and a deeper understanding of gravity
36 posted on 03/01/2004 10:26:42 PM PST by AdmSmith
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To: AdmSmith
Thanks!
37 posted on 03/01/2004 10:46:27 PM PST by RightWingAtheist
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