Hawking cracks black hole paradox

July 15, 2004 | Source: NewScientist.com

After nearly 30 years of arguing that a black hole destroys everything that falls into it, Stephen Hawking is saying he was wrong. It seems that black holes may after all allow information within them to escape.

It might solve one of the long-standing puzzles in modern physics, known as the black hole information paradox. In 1976, he calculated that once a black hole forms, it starts losing mass by radiating energy. This “Hawking radiation” contains no information about the matter inside the black hole and once the black hole evaporates, all information is lost.

But this conflicts with the laws of quantum physics, which say that such information can never be completely wiped out. Hawking’s argument was that the intense gravitational fields of black holes somehow unravel the laws of quantum physics.

Hawking will present his solution at a conference on July 21.