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String Theory May Be Solution to Stephen Hawking’s Black Hole Information Paradox, Study Claims

A Study aims to solve theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking’s black hole information paradox and end the black hole “fuzzball or wormhole” debate. Researchers at Ohio State have found that string theory, which states that particles at their smallest are made of vibrating strings that can stretch within a black hole, might be the answer to Hawking’s paradox.

Samir Mathur, professor of physics at Ohio State and lead author of the study , said this suggests that the information paradox is better explained by what he calls the fuzzball theory along with string theory. The black hole information paradox arises from Hawking’s conclusion that information that enters a black hole can never leave.

Madhur Mehta, a Ph.D. candidate in physics and a researcher on the study, said any information captured within a black hole vanishes at the end of the hole’s life. However, this theory violates quantum mechanics.

“Eventually, as the black hole starts to evaporate, it will collapse and vanish. Hence, the information is lost,” Mehta said. “However, quantum mechanics says that information is always preserved in the universe, and this gives rise to the information paradox.”

Such a paradox threatens not only quantum mechanics, but all of physics. Mathur said this conclusion poses a significant issue to scientists because quantum mechanics is essential to physics.

“If black holes are going to destroy quantum mechanics, then we have lost the basic pillar of physics,” Mathur said. 

Physicists tried to reconcile Hawking’s conclusions with what is called the wormhole theory , which states that gravity forces information to the black hole’s center until it emerges at another point in space. Mathur said the study found this to be inconsistent with visible physics. Rather, when using string theory, the researchers found radiation emitted by black holes comes from near the horizon, its edge, rather than the center.

“When we did try to make a black hole from string theory, we found that gravity did not end up pulling everything to the center,” Mathur said. “But these particles get stretched into these strings and fluff up like a big ball of strings that fills up the entirety of the black hole.” 

Mathur said rather than go through a wormhole, the particles captured by a black hole stretch out in a ball of these strings. This explains why radiation is detected near the black hole’s edge rather than its center. Mathur said there have been many possible explanations for the information paradox, but the study heavily supported the fuzzball theory.

“People in the string theory community looked for many different solutions to the information paradox,” Mathur said. “However, in every case, the fuzzball theory just became more and more confirmed.”

This finding will not only be used to explain the information paradox, Mehta said, but will help researchers explain other phenomena. Mehta said this study could resolve the unknown reason for the expansion of the universe at an accelerated rate.

“We are trying to use ideas from the fuzzballs and apply it to the cosmological models, and try to understand how fuzzballs could lead to a solution to dark energy,” Mehta said.

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