Quantum theory specifies that information is never lost but what happens to the information when a black hole vanishes?
In the latest paper, Hawking (1942-2018) and his colleagues show how some information at least may be preserved. Toss an object into a black hole and the black hole’s temperature ought to change. So too will a property called entropy, a measure of an object’s internal disorder, which rises the hotter it gets.
The physicists, including Sasha Haco at Cambridge and Andrew Strominger at Harvard, show that a black hole’s entropy may be recorded by photons that surround the black hole’s event horizon, the point at which light cannot escape the intense gravitational pull. They call this sheen of photons “soft hair”.
“What this paper does is show that ‘soft hair’ can account for the entropy,” said Perry. “It’s telling you that soft hair really is doing the right stuff.” Ian Sample, “Stephen Hawking’s final scientific paper released” at The Guardian
It’s not really the end of the paradox, of course, because no physical explanation has yet been offered nor is it clear that all of the information can be accounted for by this approach.
Looking at his career overall, one wonders whether Stephen Hawking will be seen as the end of an era, one in which naturalism (nature is all there is), often called “materialism,” appeared to work.
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See also: Did the dying Stephen Hawking strengthen the case for God by reintroducing fine-tuning?
Stephen Hawking’s final theory scales back multiverse
Sabine Hossenfelder: Hawking’s final theory is just one of a thousand speculations
Did Stephen Hawking discover a means of detecting parallel universes just before he died? This sounds a lot like grief talking but we’ll see.