I don't read anything about physics.
I'm not that kind of sciencey person and I have a bare minimal understanding of it but this article made me feel like I was a champ at life because it was like the ABC's to physics regarding a black hole.
It was written for not just the layman, but for someone like ME to understand!
Kudos for Joseph Polchinsky and Scientific America because if I ever wanted to learn physics, I want to learn it from that dude!
I really wish I could find the whole article but here's an excerpt instead. This article - and this blog post - was written a few years back and I never got around to posting it but I feel like with how many discoveries we've been making in the past year or so, theories like theses become more relevant.
Now, I've not been keeping up on the more recent findings but I think they were able to find some more evidence on Einstein's prediction that was mentioned. Also there was more evidence towards the speculation on the information coming out of the black hole rather than the original thought that all information is destroyed once it hits that singularity.
Actually, I don't know anything because I see article and glance at it, not really checking to see if it's authentic so feel free to correct me on the above paragraph because, as I said, I've not been keeping up since I've not been receiving my SA prescription in Salaya :P
One thing I really liked about this article and I didn't know they did was pose thinking pieces of speculation. I don't know, I always thought they just wrote speculation in books, but this article in SA was using evidence and proposed a hypothesis on what may actually come out of a black hole. It's kind of interesting since there is so much we don't know about our universe and after a certain point, everything is just speculation until it is proven but it's an interesting frontier.
It's nice to know that we know nothing until there is absolute proof and in this manner, you can say this is a field that science can definite use their imagination.
Now you may 'phishaw' me for saying science and imagination in the same sentence, but without imagination - with strict scientific parameters, of course - how can you try and discover new things. There will always be speculation on the next step or progressive of whatever they're researching but I think the major innovations and discoveries happen because of imagination.
Anyhoo, I know nothing other than I really liked this article and the writer needs to teach physics on YouTube or something. If you can somehow get this article online, it's worth a read.
Black Hole “Firewalls” Could Change Physics Forever
“Firewalls” of particles may border black holes, confounding both general relativity and quantum mechanics
Falling into a black hole was never going to be fun. As soon as physicists realized that black holes exist, we knew that getting too close to one spelled certain death. But we used to think that an astronaut falling past the point of no return—the so-called event horizon—would not feel anything special. According to Einstein's general theory of relativity, no signposts would mark the spot where the chance of escape dropped to zero. Anyone journeying past the horizon would just seem to fall down, down, down into a pit of blackness.
Recently, however, my colleagues and I have recast that picture in light of some new information about the effects of quantum mechanics on black holes. It now seems that our astronaut would have an experience very different from Albert Einstein's prediction. Rather than falling seamlessly into the interior, the astronaut would encounter a “firewall” of high-energy particles at the horizon that would be instantly lethal. The wall might even mark the end of space.
The article ‘Burning Rings of Fire’ restates the quantum mechanical position that information can never be destroyed, that in principle the information in a book when burned remains encoded in its ashes. I have only the most superficial understanding of the broad outlines of quantum theory, but this example does raise some questions.
Information, of course, has many forms. Consider this book, prior to its being encoded into ashes. The text was in a particular language. The words combine into expressions that have unique shades if meaning in that language. This information is important to its ability to convey meaning. The illustrations, their rich use of color and detail or, perhaps, their elegant simplicity, provide information. The font, point size and spacing of text provide information to the typesetter. A bookbinder would be interested in the method used to join the pages to the spine. One who is interested in the strength of materials finds information in the interweaving of fibers in the paper used.
A botanist could identify the plant fibers used to make the paper. A physicist could date the book by ratios of various radioisotopes. Is this a rare book, a limited edition? Its order of publication confers information that affects its value. Its antiquity, its place in history are informative to the historian. The listing of the varied forms of information contained in this single book could continue indefinitely.
Is all of this rich, multilayered information conserved when it is handed into the fire? Does it remain intact as we ‘encode’ that information in successive steps, first by burning, then by reducing the ashes to atoms? Is there not some measure of degradation with each successive ‘encoding’? If we continue to encode this assemblage of information by rendering the atoms into their constituent protons, neutrons and electrons, each of which is indistinguishable from any other, what has happened to the information? Is there any claim that, someone could re-create every aspect of the numerous forms of information previously contained in this one small, unique physical system?
By accepting the principle that information is not destroyed, does it not follow that there must exist a theoretical principle by which some hypothetical agent armed with sufficient knowledge and equipment could recover that information? If not, the statement that ‘the information is not recoverable’ is unambiguously equivalent to the statement that ‘the information was destroyed’.
If information, encoded in its dispersed and degraded ashes, cannot even in principle be recovered by a suitably knowledgeable and equipped agent, by what criterion can it be termed ‘information’?