The Black Hole Dilemma

The Black Hole Dilemma

A black hole is a region of space-time where gravity is so strong that nothing—no particles or even electromagnetic radiation such as light—can escape from it. They are objects in space that contain a large amount of mass. As a result, they have intense gravity. For decades, physicists have tried to solve a dilemma regarding black holes- what would happen if you fell into a black hole?

The first theory was that of spaghettification. As per this theory, an object nearing black hole experiences more gravity on the side nearest the black hole. This difference in the pull of gravity stretches it into a thin string, like a piece of spaghetti. Einstein further believed that the spaghettified remains would always be in there, trapped beyond the point of no return.

Polchinski’s hypothesis, however, is that the inside of a black hole may not exist. Polchinski believes that the inside of a black hole is “probably that’s the end of space itself; there’s no inside at all.”

According to the dominant theory of physics — quantum mechanics — information can never disappear from the universe. This rule is fundamental and essential and acts as the building block of quantum mechanics. In the 1970s, Hawking showed that, according to quantum mechanics, black holes evaporate — very slowly, and till they finally vanish. This idea breaks the fundamental rule because all that information that was once in your spaghettified remains disappears too.

In the intervening years, Juan Maldacena showed that Hawking was wrong. The information has to get out of the black hole… somehow. But nobody knew how.

Polchinski and his colleagues worked on Hawking’s theory and found one way to keep things from vanishing when they fall inside a black hole — they got rid of the inside. By tearing apart the fabric of space beyond the point of no return, the group was able to preserve the information rule of quantum mechanics.

In this version, anything falling into a black hole instantly vaporizes at the point of no return, in a fiery storm of quantum particles. Particles coming from the hole collectively carry away all information about the object that had fallen in. So as per Polchinski, when you fall into a black hole, you don’t disappear. Instead, you smack into the end of the universe.

Till now, none of the theories have been proven. Thus, the inside of a black hole remains one of the biggest and most fascinating scientific mysteries known to man.  

– Armaan Gandhi


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