Stephen Hawking may be one of the smartest men in the world, but he admitted Monday that even he can be mistaken from time to time.
Some 40 years after popularizing the idea of black holes – a point in space where gravity prevents anything, including light, from escaping – Hawking recanted his theory that “event horizons,” or traps that effectively create the phenomena, do not actually exist.
Hawking, along with several other prominent scientists, was already examining black holes for several years before 1974, when he introduced quantum mechanics to the debate. The argument he mounted then was that event horizons, surfaces which capture energy and light, destroy all matter, creating black holes.
But in a paper submitted by Hawking on January 22 entitled “Information Preservation and Weather Forecasting for Black Holes,” the scientist said that these surfaces – now dubbed “apparent horizons” – do not necessarily capture all light and information. On the website New Scientist, Hawking called his original idea his “biggest blunder.”
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So what does this mean to the layperson? Mostly, it ruins a lot of the “science” used in movies to tell stories about space, and more specifically, time travel. But the news also indicates that should one find oneself lost in space and advancing towards a black hole, there is a possibility, if small, that you could escape.
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