The holographic secret of black holes

This computer-simulated image shows a supermassive black hole at the core of a galaxy. The black region in the middle represents the black hole’s event horizon, where no light can escape the gravity of the massive object. The black hole’s strong gravity distorts the space around it like a funhouse mirror. Light from background stars is stretched and smeared as the stars pass through the black hole. Credit: NASA, ESA, and D. Coe, J. Anderson, and R. van der Marel (STScI)

As strange as it sounds, black holes appear to be holograms.

In the 1980s physicist Jacob Bekenstein was able to calculate exactly how big a black hole would grow. If you add a bit of information to a black hole, its surface area increases by exactly one Planck unit.

A Planck length is the smallest possible measurable distance, roughly 10-35 meters, and is important because it is around that scale where our understanding of physics completely breaks down. In particular, it is at that scale that we believe we need a quantum theory of gravity to understand what is happening. A Planck area is this length squared, and it is at this value that a black hole grows. It could literally be any other number in the cosmos, but it is a specific number.

When we add information to a black hole, it responds in a unique quantum gravitational way, unlike any other system in the universe.

It seems that the information entering the black hole is more tied to its surface than its volume. Its two dimensional surface. Any information we pour into the event horizon seems to stay there, directly responding to that information. We seem to encode all the three-dimensional information about what builds up and what falls into black holes on their two-dimensional surfaces.

Black holes look like holograms.

What in the world do black holes have to do with holograms? Why do the only accessible places in the universe where quantum mechanics and gravity meet namely, black hole event horizons act counterintuitively where their surfaces respond to information more than their volumes? Nature tries to teach us something, but we only hear the lesson in soft whispers.

So let’s take nature’s hand and see where it goes. If black holes are holograms, and black holes are quantum gravity revealed, then perhaps we are beginning to see, through a blurry and shifting glass like Galileo when he first trained his homespun optics of the sky, which the quantum theory of gravity must. can be holographic in nature, and that holography has very powerful implications not just for how we view arcane mathematical physics, but the scale of reality itself.

This is the line of reasoning behind the holographic principle, and a statement with no more than three words that completely and utterly eliminates our understanding of space, time, matter, and energy: we live in a hologram.

The next, and perhaps the last, gravitational revolution is upon us. It begins with the observation that black holes are the regions of highest entropy in the universe, and that their consumption of information content causes their surface areas, not their volumes, to grow proportionally. . And it ends with a completely new understanding of gravity.

Provided by Universe Today

Citation: The holographic secret of black holes (2023, December 19) retrieved 21 December 2023 from

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