[Paleopsych] IOP: Stephen Hawking presents new black hole theory

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Stephen Hawking presents new black hole theory
The Institute of Physics

                            Wednesday 21 July 2004

     One of the most intriguing problems in theoretical physics has been
    solved by Professor Stephen Hawking of the University of Cambridge. He
     presented his findings at GR17, the 17th International Conference on
    General Relativity and Gravitation, in Dublin on Wednesday 21st July.
    Black holes are often thought of as being regions of space into which
     matter and energy can fall, and disappear forever. In 1974, Stephen
    Hawking discovered that when one fused the ideas of quantum mechanics
      with those of general relativity, it was no longer true that black
      holes were completely black. They emitted radiation, now known as
     Hawking radiation. This radiation carried energy away from the black
    hole, which meant that the black hole would gradually shrink and then
                   disappear in a final explosive outburst.
    These ideas led to a fundamental difficulty, the information paradox,
    the resolution of which is to be revealed in Dublin. The basic problem
      is that black holes, as well as eating matter, also appear to eat
       quantum mechanical information. Yet the most fundamental laws of
      physics demand that this information be preserved as the universe
       evolves. The information paradox was explored and formalised by
       Hawking in 1975. Since then, many have tried to find a solution.
     Whilst most physicists think that there must be a resolution of the
    paradox, nobody has really produced a believable explanation. In fact,
     seven years ago the issue prompted Hawking, together with Kip Thorne
      of Caltech, to make a wager against John Preskill also of Caltech,
         that the information swallowed by black holes could never be
              Hawking has now conceded that he has lost the bet!
     The way his new calculations work is to show that the event horizon,
     which is the surface of the black hole, has quantum fluctuations in
    it. These are the same uncertainties in position that were made famous
       by Heisenberg's uncertainty principle and are central to quantum
    mechanics. The fluctuations gradually allow all the information inside
      the black hole to leak out, thus allowing us to form a consistent
             picture. The information paradox is now unravelled.
    A complete description of this work will be published in professional
                    journals and on the web in due course.
         Prof. Hawking's lecture forms part of the 17th International
    Conference on General Relativity and Gravitation (GR17). This lecture
     forms part of the scientific programme of the conference, and is not
                             open to the public.
     However, the conference programme also includes two public lectures.
     On Monday 19th at 8pm, Prof. Kip Thorne delivered a lecture entitled
    "Probing the Universe and Black Holes with Gravitational Waves", while
      on Friday 23rd, also at 8pm, Prof. Sir Roger Penrose will speak on
    "Fashion, Faith, and Fantasy in Modern Physical Theories". Tickets for
     Prof. Penrose's lecture will be available at the door. The lectures
      take place in the Concert Hall of the RDS (Merrion Road entrance).
      The weeklong GR17 conference is taking place in the RDS Conference
    Centre, Dublin. It is being attended by upwards of 600 scientists from
       48 different countries. As well as Prof. Hawking, GR17 is being
    attended by such renowned scientists as Sir Roger Penrose, Kip Thorne
      and Sir Martin Rees. The conference was officially inaugurated on
    Monday 19th by Her Excellency Mrs Mary McAleese, President of Ireland.
       GR17 is the latest edition in a triennial series held under the
       auspices of the International Society on General Relativity and
        Gravitation. This conference series constitutes the principal
      international meetings in the areas of relativity, gravitation and
         The subject matter of the conference is all areas of general
     relativity and gravitation, including Gravitational Waves: Detection
       and Generation, Astrophysics of Black Holes, the Early Universe,
                     String Theory, and Quantum Gravity.
     See the [14]GR17 web site for more information about the conference.


   14. http://www.gr17.com/

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