Are There Any Gaps In Black Hole Theory?

In the wake of Mathur’s earlier research, four physicists at the University of California, Santa Barbara posited in 2012 that the seeming loss of information around an event horizon (as it does when, say, a genetically unique tree is burned into uniform gray ash) must come with the release of an incredible amount of energy. They proposed that, just underneath the surface of a black hole’s event horizon, there is a spherical “firewall” of energy ready to annihilate anything that dares to enter.

While it provided a working hypothesis for what might happen to all that supposedly lost information inside a black hole, more than a few scientists were unconvinced.

“I can tell you right now: the firewall idea is and always has been preposterous,” Chris Adami, Ph.D., a professor of microbiology, molecular genetics, physics, and astronomy at Michigan State University, tells Inverse.

Adami has been involved in this debate for a while. With a grant from the Army Research Office in 2003, he made an ambitious attempt to resolve the black hole information problem by testing it against some of the emerging principles of quantum communication theory.

Donald Marolf, Ph.D., one of the physicists that first proposed the firewall, waves off the criticisms. He does not believe that Adami’s research is even applicable to the debate because he thinks it misses the real issue at the heart of the black hole paradox: how to account for the “spontaneous emissions” proposed by none other than Stephen Hawking.

“Adami’s work discussed ‘stimulated emission’ by black holes,” Marolf tells Inverse. “But — despite common misconceptions — this has essentially nothing to do with the black hole info problem, which instead concerns the growth of [quantum] entanglement due to ‘spontaneous emission.’”

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Are There Any Gaps In Black Hole Theory?


Are There Any Gaps In Black Hole Theory?