Stephen Hawking’s Final Paper On the Black Hole Information Paradox Just Got Published


The final paper written by Stephen Hawking which dealt with the black hole information paradox has just been published by his colleagues in the journal arXiv. The team he worked with finished the research a few days before the renowned scientist died in March.

His last paper was the third in a series of studies dealing with this concept. Here’s what the study proposes.

Black Hole Information Paradox

According to classical physics, nothing escapes black holes – not even light. They’re very dense, and form when stars collide or collapse in on themselves. However, a thing Hawking proposed in the 1970s was that black holes could leak out quantum particles, as they might have a temperature. This phenomenon was called “Hawking radiation,” and added the idea that in the end, a black hole evaporates and leaves behind a vacuum, no matter how much matter ate while it was alive.

But this idea came with a problem. If the black hole swallowed so much information, where did it go as the black hole evaporated? According to the laws of physics, no information should be lost – all the information from the past can be recovered. Here is where the term “paradox” came into his study.

In 2016, Hawking and his team theorized that black holes could have some light particles – “soft hairs” or gravitons (hypothetical particles of gravity) that store some of the information. These hairs surround the event horizon of a black hole, but how would they work?

Hawking Knew The Final Result

In the last paper, Hawking and his team found a way to count how much information could a soft hair carry. Senior author Andrew Strominger of the recently published study explains that the last theory – which was not yet proven, “agreed with the famous formula now inscribed on Stephen’s headstone.”

Strominger was talking about the formula that describes how black holes emit the Hawking radiation, the “Hawking equation.”

The study shows that the “soft hair” of the black hole can record its entropy. Malcolm Perry, professor of theoretical physics at the University of Cambridge and part of Hawking’s team, recalls that the late physicist “knew the final result” of this paper. When Perry explained the theory to Hawking, “he simply produced an enormous smile.”

Strominger concluded that “this is excellent progress, but we have much work yet to do.”


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