College News

New Thought on Black Holes

From the January 2017 Desktop News Dr. Matthias Kaminski, an assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy recently teamed up with Nobel laureate Gerard’t Hooft and a group of other international theoretical physicists at the biennial Schwarzschild conference in Frankfurt, Germany, to discuss the mysteries of black holes.

“Although astrophysicists have found convincing evidence of the existence of black holes, some other bizarre properties remain behind our experimental grasp,” said professor Bill Keel, a UA professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

To better understand unexplained paradoxes and the reasons some experiments regarding black holes fail, theoretical physicists, like Kaminski—or more familiarly Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking—try to think about new ways of seeing the universe and interpreting old theories.

At the conference, one of the main topics discussed was the paradox between a traditional understanding of gravity, which suggests that a black hole is always consuming any matter, and the later understanding of Hawking radiation and quantum theory, which suggests that black holes are also always emitting particles from them.

Though it has been 40 years since Hawking initially revealed that black holes emit particles, physicists have yet to rectify the paradox in order to explain where the information embedded in a black hole goes after it has completely irradiated.

“Everyone was very much in agreement that locality and causality were two concepts that need to be re-thought,” Kaminski said. “The way we think of space time being something rigid and then placing events upon that rigid space time needs to be rethought. But again, with every answer there will be new questions.”

The discussion is still ongoing, but Kaminski and the other theorists suggest that new developments in detecting gravitational waves from merging black holes, measuring neutrinos from cosmic sources, and laboratory experiments at the highest energies all hold promise of opening up our understanding of black holes.

The group’s paper, which summarizes the panel discussion at the conference, can be found at http://arxiv.org/pdf/1609.01725v1.pdf