Stephen Hawking: Black Holes May Not Have ‚Event Horizons‘ After All

Stephen Hawking poses for a picture ahead of a screening of the documentary ‚Hawking‘, a film about the scientist’s life, at the opening night of the Cambridge Film Festival in Cambridge, England on September 19, 2013. ANDREW COWIE/AFP/Getty | AFP via Getty Images
Most physicists foolhardy enough to write a paper claiming that “there are no black holes” — at least not in the sense we usually imagine — would probably be dismissed as cranks.


But when the call to redefine these cosmic crunchers comes from Stephen Hawking, it’s worth taking notice. In a paper posted online, the physicist, based at the University of Cambridge, UK, and one of the creators of modern black-hole theory, does away with the notion of an event horizon, the invisible boundary thought to shroud every black hole, beyond which nothing, not even light, can escape.

In its stead, Hawking’s radical new proposal is a much more benign “apparent horizon”, which only temporarily holds matter and energy prisoner before eventually releasing them, albeit in a more garbled form.

“There is no escape from a black hole in classical theory,” Hawking told Nature. Quantum theory, however, “enables energy and information to escape from a black hole.” A full explanation of the process, the physicist admits, would require a theory that successfully merges gravity with the other fundamental forces of nature. But that’s a goal that has eluded physicists for nearly a century. “The correct treatment,” Hawking says, “remains a mystery.”

Hawking posted his paper on the arXiv preprint server on 22 January1, and it has yet to pass peer review. He titled it, whimsically, “Information Preservation and Weather Forecasting for Black Holes”.

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