July 16, 2004

But we still call them black and we still call them holes

from - smijer

Thanks to the fact that I read Sean Carroll's blog, I knew about this a solid two weeks before all the news outlets got the press release. What this means, if my little pea-brain is properly wrapped around the subject, and if Hawking's result can be confirmed, is that black holes do not destroy a deterministic view of the universe by preventing information from the past from having its due influence on the future. That is to say, that the billiard balls you set in motion with your cue stick may fall into a black hole, and even though they are crunched to singularity (in theory), and emerge much later in the form of high energy elemental particles, they still move in their particular direction and speed in part because of your cue-stroke. If true, it is somewhat comforting. The alternative would be that sometimes cause loses its effect and effect loses its cause.

Of course, there is still a trade-off. For the lifetime of the black hole, some cause and effect chains remain hidden from us completely. And, of course, we could only hope to recover the information about the original system after it re-emerges from the black hole in principle. In practice, it is unlikely we will ever be able to use the emerging information from a disintegrating black hole to discover much useful data about the state of the system before it encountered the black hole. We can rest assured, however, that no principle of causality is being truly violated, if Hawking is correct, and it all comes out in the end.

Also this week, it seems Noah's Ark is on the verge of being excavated once and for all... and I have a bridge for sale in New York.


Posted by smijer at July 16, 2004 07:27 AM
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