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Hawking will explain new black hole idea today at KTH

KTH President Peter Gudmundson greets Stephen Hawking as he arrives at KTH yesterday. (Photo: Håkan Lindgren)
Published Aug 25, 2015

Last night Stephen Hawking dropped a hint that he'll reveal something big today. He'll be expanding on his latest ideas concerning black holes — and the possible passage of information into alternative universes — at the Hawking Radiation conference being held at KTH Royal Institute of Technology.

Stephen Hawking announced last night in Stockholm that he has "now discovered a mechanism by which information is returned out of the black hole." The legendary physicist said he will expand on his latest idea today at the Hawking Radiation conference being hosted by Nordita at KTH Royal Institute of Technology.

Hawking is in town for a weeklong conference on the information loss paradox, joining 32 of the world's leading physicists on the campus of KTH. Nordita is co-hosted by KTH and Stockholm University. Organized by UNC Physicist Laura Mersini-Houghton, the event is co-sponsored by Nordita , UNC and the Julian Schwinger Foundation. 

Hawking is in town for the weeklong conference, which is co-sponsored by  Nordita, UNC and the Julian Schwinger Foundation. Nordita is co-hosted by KTH and Stockholm University.  UNC Physicist Laura Mersini-Houghton was instrumental in assembling 32 of the world's leading physicists to tackle the problem, which stems from contradications between quantum mechanics and general relativity. 

During a sold-out lecture at Stockholm's Waterfront auditorium, Hawking said he has been working on supertranslations with Malcolm Perry and Andrew Strominger, and that his findings suggest the possibility that missing information could be stored in alternate universes. (The Cambridge professor also referenced the influence of Richard Feynman, whose work helped lay the foundation for M-theory and string theory.)

Stephen Hawking gives a lecture at Stockholm's Waterfront auditorium. (Photo: Adam af Ekenstam)

That is, that some black holes could be passages to these universes. 

"The message of this lecture is that black holes ain't as black as they are painted," he said. "They are not the eternal prisons they were once thought. Things can get out of a black hole both on the outside and possibly come out in another universe."

“The existence of alternative histories with black holes suggests this might be possible,” Hawking said. “The hole would need to be large and if it was rotating it might have a passage to another universe. But you couldn’t come back to our universe. So although I’m keen on space flight, I’m not going to try that."

The lecture capped off a remarkable day at KTH. Hawking arrived on campus at 11:20 a.m. and was escorted into the conference by KTH President Peter Gudmundson, while Nobel physics laureate Gerard 't Hooft held forth at the podium.

"It is a great honor to have so many outstanding researchers at KTH and especially Professor Hawking," Gudmundsson said earlier, during his remarks to the conference participants.

David Callahan