July 21, 2004

Hawking says black holes don't produce baby universes

Cosmologist Stephen Hawking recently posited his new theory about where information goes when in enters into a black hole (funny how the press tends to report Hawking's theories not so much as theories but as Ultimate Truths). Hawking, 62, claims that the black holes hold their contents for eons but themselves eventually deteriorate and die. As the black hole disintegrates, they send their transformed contents back into the infinite universal horizons from whence they came.

Hawking had previously considered the idea that the information branches off into parallel universes. Hawking had this to say about his recent thinking:
“There is no baby universe branching off, as I once thought. The information remains firmly in our universe.”

“I'm sorry to disappoint science-fiction fans, but if information is preserved, there is no possibility of using black holes to travel to other universes. If you jump into a black hole, your mass energy will be returned to our universe, but in a mangled form, which contains the information about what you were like, but in an unrecognizable state.

“It is great to solve a problem that has been troubling me for nearly 30 years, even though the answer is less exciting than the alternative I suggested.”

Time will tell if Hawking is correct and I'm sure a number of cosmologists, like Lee Smolin, will have lots to say on the issue.

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