According to new a theory (and some mathematical support), black holes might just be holograms. Let me channel my inner Charlie Eppes (Numbers anyone?) and try to explain the theory.
It all began in August 2015 when Stephen Hawking (this man requires no introduction ladies and gentlemen) along with a few other geniuses of the Physics world came up with a theory to explain the black hole information paradox.
For those poor souls who don’t understand the information paradox, here is a gross simplification. A black hole gobbles up everything and once an object is inside it, it can never come out again. So, says the general theory of relativity.
Now, according to another law of physics (quantum mechanics this time), the matter can never be destroyed.
You see the conundrum? No?
Think this: if the matter cannot be destroyed, then what happens to those objects that the gluttonous black hole ate up after it says Sayonara? It is like saying I am obese but I am healthy. Controversial, isn’t it?
And how did Hawking solve this paradox?
He proposed: “The information is stored not in the interior of the black hole as one might expect but on its boundary, the event horizon”.
The event horizon is a sphere or a shell found around a black hole (imagine an eggshell covering the yolk and egg white).
To simplify this proposal, Imagine an object passing the event horizon. While it passes and enters the black hole, it leaves behind some information. Like a 3-D object leaving behind a 2-D imprint. Exactly in the manner a hologram works.
The foundation is while the physical body of the object might go kaput, the blueprint will survive.
Hawking further explained the information loss problem by stating that when Hawking Radiation occurs, it carries some of the information stored in the event horizon. Thus, preserving matter rather than destroying it.
Still don’t get it, do you? Picture this: I pass you a basketball (an object entering the event horizon). You take a photo of it (object living behind information) and then you destroy the ball (object entering the black hole).
You still have information about the ball just in a different form (a 2D imprint of object). Now, you give the photo to Mr. Who as he leaves you (Hawking Radiation being emitted by the black hole).
The hologram theory now planted its roots and physicists went about trying to prove it. (Well, at least those who agreed with it). They did so by studying the entropy of a black hole. Entropy is the measure of how ordered or disordered something is.
The one thing all the super brains agreed with is that black holes must have entropy. But, as of yet they do not have one correct way of measuring it. Hawking suggested that the entropy of a black hole is proportional to its area and not volume.
Working on this suggestion, physicist Daniele Pranzetti and his colleagues worked on measuring the entropy of a black hole. They came up with a possible solution that solidifies the hologram theory.
Now, let’s forgo all the scientific mumbo-jumbo for now and use the universally loved language of food, to explain the theory Pranzetti put forward. Till now we think of a black hole as a deep dish, double cheese burst pizza base. The hard crunchy rim (which is always left uneaten) is the event horizon.
The inch deep, mushy, cheese-filled base is the black hole. Pranzetti’s solution essentially compares a black hole to a thin wheat crust pizza instead of the former. A flat circle i.e. made of only 2 dimensions. Their work supports that theoretically, this 2D structure can contain all the information of a black hole.
Hence, a 3-dimensional black hole is not needed. It only appears so due to a trick of the eye like a hologram.
Though there is no hard proof as of yet, this is a big leap in the scientific world. At present, the infinite Universe is like an iceberg to us. We see and understand not even 10% of the whole. If this theory does indeed get validated, it will provide a deeper understanding of it. Also, as Stephen Hawking put it “Black holes ain’t as black as they are painted”.