Hawking now says there are no black holes?

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That’s how Nature puts it.

Black holes made him famous, right? Hawking radiation and all.

Anyway, he says now, there are no black holes as we understand them.  From Nature:

Most physicists foolhardy enough to write a paper claiming that “there are no black holes” — at least not in the sense we usually imagine — would probably be dismissed as cranks. But when the call to redefine these cosmic crunchers comes from Stephen Hawking, it’s worth taking notice. In a paper posted online, the physicist, based at the University of Cambridge, UK, and one of the creators of modern black-hole theory, does away with the notion of an event horizon, the invisible boundary thought to shroud every black hole, beyond which nothing, not even light, can escape.

In its stead, Hawking’s radical proposal is a much more benign “apparent horizon”, which only temporarily holds matter and energy prisoner before eventually releasing them, albeit in a more garbled form.

Paper here.

Other physicists are skeptical: Black hole expert Don Page says “Hawking is opening the door to a scenario so extreme ‘that anything in principle can get out of a black hole.’ Joseph Polchinski doubts that black holes without an event horizon could exist in nature, and Raphael Bousso says Hawking’s new proposal is in some ways “an even more radical and problematic suggestion” than another one proposed by quantum physicists (“firewalls”).

Is it just me or do others find that all this feels fundamentally unserious? It feels like something strutting down the catwalk looks.  – O’Leary for News

Science-Fictions-square.gif See also: The Science Fictions series at your fingertips (where I look systematically at the origins of big time unseriousness)

and Primordial black holes not thought to explain dark matter after all (search called off)

20 Replies to “Hawking now says there are no black holes?

  1. 1
    Mapou says:

    Future history will not be kind to Hawking. He will be known as one the most prolific crackpots (con artists?) in the history of science.

  2. 2
    Mapou says:


    Is it just me or do others find that all this feels fundamentally unserious? It feels like something strutting down the catwalk looks. – O’Leary for News

    Black hole physics is pure unmitigated crackpottery of the worst kind, in my opinion. It’s one of the worst scams perpetrated on humanity. There isn’t an ounce of truth or science in it. Why? Because it ignores the undeniable fact that infinity (and thus continuity) is nonsense and that nature is fundamentally and inescapably discrete.

  3. 3
    News says:

    I’m willing to give the man the benefit of the doubt but wonder if there is something no one is saying here. If it is really true that we ought to think of black holes in a fundamentally different way, one might have expected a bit more formality. It’s almost as if he isn’t being taken seriously but no one quite wants to say it. Well, we’ll see.

  4. 4
    Mapou says:


    There is no doubt that there are super gravitational systems at the center of galaxies but they did not come from the gravitational collapse of massive stars as Hawking and the rest of the black hole gang preach to the masses. Like Schrodinger’s cat, black hole singularities make no sense whatsoever. If you accept that the universe was designed, as I do, it is a sure bet that a so-called black hole is a gravitational mechanism specially designed to keep galaxies from flying apart. We will figure it out eventually but Hawking is not the man to do so.

    That being said, I reiterate my claim that black holes are nonsense because they are based on the idea that the universe is continuous, a hopeless fallacy.

  5. 5
    Paul Giem says:

    I have always had a major question about black holes. It almost appears like nature abhors a black hole. Look at what happens when a star ages according to present models.

    If a star is like the sun, it shrinks into a white dwarf. A little larger, and it turns into a neutron star. A little larger, and it should shrink into a black hole. Instead, it turns into a cepheid variable, throwing off multiple shells of gas until it finally has just little enough mass to turn into a neutron star. A little larger, and it blows off most of its mass as a nova, or if larger, a supernova. It’s almost as if the star is desperately trying to avoid turning into a black hole. What gives?

  6. 6
    Andre says:

    Well well, a few post down and selvaRajan was sure they exist, now if the guy that invented them say they do not exist, does it mean that they still do? Did they ever exist?

  7. 7
    bornagain77 says:

    Stephen Hawking has lost all the great respect I had for him when he wrote ‘The Grand Design’. In fact the precise moment his esteem as a first caliber scientist took a nose-dive with me was when I watched this video of his former collaborator, Penrose:

    Hawking co-scientist Roger Penrose debunks M-theory on Christian Radio – video

    ‘What is referred to as M-theory isn’t even a theory. It’s a collection of ideas, hopes, aspirations. It’s not even a theory and I think the book is a bit misleading in that respect. It gives you the impression that here is this new theory which is going to explain everything. It is nothing of the sort. It is not even a theory and certainly has no observational (evidence),,, I think the book suffers rather more strongly than many (other books). It’s not a uncommon thing in popular descriptions of science to latch onto some idea, particularly things to do with string theory, which have absolutely no support from observations.,,, They are very far from any kind of observational (testability). Yes, they (the ideas of M-theory) are hardly science.”
    – Roger Penrose – former close colleague of Stephen Hawking – in critique of Hawking’s new book ‘The Grand Design’

  8. 8
    PaV says:

    Let me wade in, please.

    I think what Hawking’s is quoted as saying makes much more sense than what was previously understood to be a “black hole.” I think he’s onto something. This, of course, simply means that what he’s positing is in greater conformity with my own views of cosmology than his former position. I will look at the paper momentarily, and, should I find reasons to disagree with Hawking, will get back to you all.

    As to what Paul Giem writes, while I agree with you, I think you can still have a “black hole” and avoid having a “singularity” (1 divided by infinity). Hawking has taken a step in this direction. But, again, I’ll now give the paper a look.

  9. 9
    Robert Byers says:

    What happened to all the scientific evidence behind the black hole conclusion? Poof. Sucked into nothing. Is this science or endless UNTESTABLE hypothesis?
    The latter!
    If black holes are not true ANYMORE then why demand evolution is true!
    Are we waiting for a Hawkings in biology to overthrow evolution? Creationists already have but they like their own.
    I respect Hawkings for overcoming his problem and continuing his passion in his subject YET if this is his patent or claim to fame being replaced by himself THEN why was he a above average famous scientist in the first place.
    No disrespect but I don’t see why he is a noteworthy achiever in science.
    I don’t see what his contribution has been.
    Wiki says its black holes! Thats a minor thing to me and NOW it seems he’s changing his mind.
    I don’t think he will be in a list of science achievers in twenty years.
    No disrespect but what is the patent for a claim to a intellectual accomplishment from this man?

  10. 10
    selvaRajan says:

    Sorry to disappoint everyone, but Blackhole remains! This is what Dr. Hawking says:

    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

    what it means is that light or anything travelling at speed of light can escape black hole. Since all matter have mass, no matter can reach speed of light, effectively even in Dr.Hawking’s new proposal, black hole remains.

    The paper is about black hole firewall paradox – a person falling through the event horizon will burn up according to Quantum mechanics but according to General Relativity, the person will feel nothing abnormal at all. Dr.Hawking doesn’t agree with the firewall because if a firewall forms at the point of event horizon, it means it is a not locally determined but depends on future space-time. Firewall also violates Charge Conjugation, parity and Time reversal (CPT) invariance,so he does away with event horizon and introduces ‘apparent horizon’, but if event horizon is removed the quantum information will be lost – how is that possible? So Dr. Hawking says – no the information will exist in classically chaotic state so although you have information, it is of no use as it cannot be read properly. Effectively it’s lost!

    What I don’t get from his paper is how apparent horizon will form or the exact nature of apparent horizon- there is zero mathematics in the paper. It seems more like a write up for pop science magazine.

    Earlier he authored a paper with Penrose which showed -based on GR-that Event Horizon and Apparent horizon are same. Now based on QM, he seems to imply both are different !

  11. 11
    Mapou says:


    What I don’t get from his paper is how apparent horizon will form or the exact nature of apparent horizon- there is zero mathematics in the paper. It seems more like a write up for pop science magazine.

    Earlier he authored a paper with Penrose which showed -based on GR-that Event Horizon and Apparent horizon are same. Now based on QM, he seems to imply both are different !

    The whole thing is a monumental kludge that Hawking pulled out of his rear end. It’s not unlike Darwinian evolution, if you ask me. It’s called science from on high whereby the high priests pour their foul tasting concoctions down the public’s throat whether they like it or not. Here, take that, morons! And stop whining about your money being spent on nonsense. The elitist condescension of the scientific community is repugnant and legendary.

    If Hawking cannot explain his theories in a language that the public can understand and question him about, we, the public, must assume that it’s a scam, a way to be famous and make a lot of money.

  12. 12
    tragic mishap says:


    …infinity (and thus continuity) is nonsense and that nature is fundamentally and inescapably discrete.

    Well said, sir.

  13. 13
    StuartHarris says:

    Isn’t what Hawking is saying here essentially the same thing he came up with back in the late 1970’s? Namely, that black holes can radiate energy? It was even called “Hawking Radiation”, and is really the only major contribution to physics he is known for. He’s mostly famous as a pop-philosopher. (Maybe that sounds mean, but … you know…)

  14. 14
    scordova says:


    Look what I posted at UD in August 2013 that referenced a paper in 2005:

    Black Holes Do Not Exist

  15. 15
    Querius says:

    Interesting. So, what does Hawking leave us with? Brown holes? Dark depressions?


  16. 16
    GMD says:

    I haven’t read anything of Hawking’s extensively but I’ve always admired him as a scientist. If he changes his mind about some of his conclusions then I won’t fault him for that, he’s only human. How he deals with the ramifications of those changes will say more about him as a person than the changes themselves I think.
    As for the existence of black holes I can’t say I’ve ever seen one. I know you can’t see them but aside from artist renditions and computer generated images where is all the evidence for black holes except on a university’s chalk board. Further, there were a few YouTube videos in 2012 posting an interesting assessment of possible reasons for the structures we see in the cosmos, including references to why there no such things as black holes, dark energy, or dark matter. The author has yet to have his theories tested and verified but I don’t think his ideas are going away anytime soon. I’m intrigued by them, at least. 🙂
    The author, David LaPoint, talks about black holes between the 33:30 and 35:30 mark of video 1.

    Video 1
    Video 2
    Video 3

  17. 17
    Levan says:

    Very funny! Perhaps he will change his mind also regarding Aliens: he was scared some years ago that Aliens will come and take from us our last coal and oil. 🙂
    I think Hawking is overestimated us a scientist.

  18. 18
    scordova says:

    Creationist Robert Hermann, professor at the US Naval Academy criticized Black Holes 16 years ago:

    ABSTRACT. In this paper, a new derivation for one of the black hole line elements is given since the basic derivation for this line element is flawed mathematically.
    This derivation postulates a transformation procedure that utilizes a transformation function that is modeled by an ideal nonstandard physical world transformation
    process that yields a connection between an exterior Schwarzschild line element and distinctly different interior line element. The transformation is an ideal transformation in that in the natural world the transformation is conceived of as occurring at
    an unknown moment in the evolution of a gravitationally collapsing spherical body with radius greater than but near to the Schwarzschild radius. An ideal transformation
    models this transformation in a manner independent of the objects standard radius. It yields predicted behavior based upon a Newtonian gravitational field prior to the transformation, predicted behavior after the transformation for a field internal to the Schwarzschild surface and predicted behavior with respect to field
    alteration processes during the transformation.

  19. 19
    yogiverse1 says:

    Can someone correct me on this, but isn’t the whole premise of A Brief History in Time that unless the universe is four-dimensional space without singularities or boundaries, then it must have been created by a “creator?”

  20. 20
    Mapou says:

    Black holes are based on classical physics which is based on the existence of continuous structures. The problem is that continuous structures (e.g., an infinitely smooth surface or field) leads to an infinite regress. Even Einstein, Mr. Continuity, had serious doubts about it near the end of his life:

    “I consider it quite possible that physics cannot be based on the field concept, i.e., on continuous structures. In that case, nothing remains of my entire castle in the air, gravitation theory included, [and of] the rest of modern physics.” (From: Subtle is the Lord by Abraham Pais.)

    One day soon, physicists will wake up from their collective stupor and acknowledge that reality is discrete, not because of some experiment result, but because it cannot be any other way by logical necessity. When that happens, the entire black hole religion will disappear overnight along with a huge pile of other nonsense.

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