According to a new theoretical perspective, black holes are not inexorable death traps but hologram generators — anything that touches it becomes a holographic “imperfect” copy of itself that continues to exist as before.
via Science Daily:
In a paper posted online to the arXiv preprint server, Mathur takes issue with the firewall theory, and proves mathematically that black holes are not necessarily arbiters of doom.
In fact, he says the world could be captured by a black hole, and we wouldn’t even notice.
More than a decade ago, Mathur used the principles of string theory to show that black holes are actually tangled-up balls of cosmic strings. His “fuzzball theory” helped resolve certain contradictions in how physicists think of black holes.
But when a group of researchers recently tried to build on Mathur’s theory, they concluded that the surface of the fuzzball was actually a firewall.
According to the firewall theory, the surface of the fuzzball is deadly. In fact, the idea is called the firewall theory because it suggests that a very literal fiery death awaits anything that touches it.
Mathur and his team have been expanding on their fuzzball theory, too, and they’ve come to a completely different conclusion. They see black holes not as killers, but rather as benign copy machines of a sort.
They believe that when material touches the surface of a black hole, it becomes a hologram, a near-perfect copy of itself that continues to exist just as before.
“Near-perfect” is the point of contention. There is a hypothesis in physics called complementarity, which was first proposed by Stanford University physicist Leonard Susskind in 1993. Complementarity requires that any such hologram created by a black hole be a perfect copy of the original.
Mathematically, physicists on both sides of this new fuzzball-firewall debate have concluded that strict complementarity is not possible; That is to say, a perfect hologram can’t form on the surface of a black hole.
Mathur and his colleagues are comfortable with the idea, because they have since developed a modified model of complementarity, in which they assume that an imperfect hologram forms. That work was done with former Ohio State postdoctoral researcher David Turton, who is now at the Institute of Theoretical Physics at the CEA-Saclay research center in France.
Proponents of the firewall theory take an all-or-nothing approach to complementarity. Without perfection, they say, there can only be fiery death.
With his latest paper, Mathur counters that he and his colleagues have now proven mathematically that modified complementarity is possible.
It’s not that the firewall proponents made some kind of math error, he added. The two sides based their calculations on different assumptions, so they got different answers. One group rejects the idea of imperfection in this particular case, and the other does not.
Imperfection is common topic in cosmology. Physicist Stephen Hawking has famously said that the universe was imperfect from the very first moments of its existence. Without an imperfect scattering of the material created in the Big Bang, gravity would not have been able to draw together the atoms that make up galaxies, stars, the planets — and us.
This new dispute about firewalls and fuzzballs hinges on whether physicists can accept that black holes are imperfect, just like the rest of the universe.
“There’s no such thing as a perfect black hole, because every black hole is different,” Mathur explained.