From Sophie Hebden at FQXI:
A radical theory replaces the cosmic crunchers with fuzzy quantum spheres, potentially solving the black-hole information paradox and explaining away the Big Bang and the origin of time.
If the core of a black hole isn’t confusing enough, things get worse when you consider its surface—or “event horizon”—which marks an imaginary boundary surrounding the black hole. Anything that crosses the event horizon, even light, will be sucked in towards the black hole’s core and crushed into the singularity. At first it was thought that nothing that falls in to a black hole can ever escape. But in 1974, Stephen Hawking calculated that, thanks to quantum effects, black holes can slowly radiate energy from their horizon. As they do so, they gradually shrink, until eventually they will evaporate entirely. The trouble is, if they vanish from the universe, so too does all the information about the objects that they swallowed over their lifetimes. This, Hawking realized, would violate a fundamental rule of quantum theory, which states that information can never be completely destroyed. He had hit upon the now famous, and still unresolved, black-hole information paradox.
Mathur’s fuzzball proposal, however, could solve all these conundrums. Firstly, it eradicates the puzzle of what happens at the centre of a black hole by replacing the singularity and surrounding invisible vacuum with a fuzzball—an impenetrable, fuzzy bramble of quantum matter and energy that stretches to the event horizon. The more massive the black hole, Mathur’s thinking goes, the bigger the fuzzball.
So, does this mean that time didn’t originate at the Big Bang? Rather, mini fuzzballs have always existed—and what we interpret as the beginning of time at the Big Bang explosion is just the result of their collision? “This is indeed a deep question,” says Mathur. Their preliminary studies suggest that we should be thinking of the Big Bang as a softer sort of process, where smaller fuzzballs coalesce into larger ones to ultimately make the universe we see today. More.
Also, The Fuzzball Fix for a Black Hole Paradox by Jennifer Ouellette (Quanta):
Fuzzballs match expected predictions in the context of toy models of highly idealized types of black holes with zero temperature. That means there is no Hawking radiation, and the black holes don’t evaporate, which is a critical component to retrieving information. Such models provide a mechanism for storing information by encoding the data in the fuzzball structure. But the information paradox is “both a storage and a recycling problem, and we don’t have the recycling mechanism,” said Warner. The next step will be to extend the concept to more realistic models that match the black holes we observe (indirectly) in our universe. “It’s not hopeless, it’s just daunting.”
Fuzzballs also require extra dimensions and rest on the assumption that string theory is the correct theory of quantum gravity, which may or may not be the case. Mathur still insists his fuzzball conjecture completes the information puzzle — at least in string theory — and by extension, the firewall paradox. Polchinski remains staunchly agnostic: “All bets are off; everything is open for discussion.” More.
Everything is always open for discussion; otherwise, fuzzballs would not even be considered. As for string theory, it seems to have been coming unstrung for years but is too popular to just recede.
See also: Suzan Mazur talks with Fermilab associate Craig Hogan at Oscillations about the current state of the hologram universe
Astrophysicist as advice columnist: Question, should I study string theory? String theory is what happens to science when evidence isn’t Cool like it used to be. Good career choice? Depends on what becomes of science.
Post-modern physics: String theory gets over the need for evidence