The term “black hole” refers to regions in space formed when a star dies and collapses under the pressure of its own gravity to a single point in space called a singularity. The gravitational forces on a specific singularity are so intense that even the light cannot escape them, and that is why they are called ‘black holes’.
Up to now we have heard a lot of theories about what is going on in a black hole, even the ones claiming that these mysterious space objects might contain entire universes. We have heard that time slows down inside black holes due to the effects of relativity, and we have heard of proof of their existence, mostly based on the matter that swirls around them having been pulled by their gravity.
All that is now thrown away as theoretical physicist Dr. Laura Mersini-Houghton of the University of North Carolina has published her research, which says that black holes do not exist because it is mathematically impossible for a black hole to even form! The research was greeted with due skepticism by her peers, and, in her own words, her findings are difficult to swallow.
Her research proposes a potential resolution of the “black hole information loss paradox,” which results from a conflict between Einstein’s general theory of relativity, which suggests that physical information can disappear in a black hole forever, and quantum mechanics, which states that no “information” can ever be permanently lost in the universe since it is encoded in its wave function until the time that this function collapses.
If this indeed is so, then Drs. Houghton and her colleague Dr. Harald Pfeiffer, who is a relativity expert at the University of Toronto, have achieved a holy grail of physics, which is the unification of the theory of relativity with quantum mechanics, something that scientists have been trying to do for decades.
According to their publication, a collapsing star sheds mass and stops collapsing at a certain radius from its center, and then the core explodes. The theory is based on the Hawking Radiation discovery of 1974, and essentially points out that when the star collapses, it produces tremendous amounts of Hawking Radiation, which results in the loss of mass. At the time that a singularity is supposed to be created, there simply isn’t enough mass left of the star to form it. The remaining matter rebounds outward through an ordinary explosion. Furthermore, the scientists claim that through their explanation, a lot of theories about the strange and almost incomprehensible properties of a black hole can be simply eliminated.
If their hypothesis is correct, theories that have been put forth as to the origin of our universe will have to be revised. As expected, Drs. Houghton’s paper has been met with disbelief from a number of her peers.
Dr. Max Tegmark, who is a cosmologist and a physics professor at MIT, states that he is not convinced. As per his words, seeing numerical calculations is great, but when the result differs from published, proven and accepted findings, then there must be a number of incorrect assumptions. Before anyone can prove that black holes do not exist, they must first offer a valid and plausible explanation for all the observational evidence.
Dr. David Garfinkle, who is an expert on singularities and gravitational fields and teaches physics at Oakland University, called the research “interesting”, but went on to say that there is not enough knowledge about singularities to correctly identify if the hypothesis is correct or not. Even if it is so, it is a long way from saying that black holes do not exist, as there is a multitude of astronomical proofs that objects behaving as black holes, as per Einstein’s theories, do exist.
The argument becomes even more complicated as Stephen Hawking (no need to introduce him), has stipulated in an online paper he published that black holes indeed do not exist but are in fact “grey holes”, as he calls them. In this paper he claims that the idea of an event horizon, which captures even the light, is flawed. What happens instead, is that light rays during their attempt to rush away from the singularity’s core, are stuck on a treadmill and eventually shrink, emitting radiation.
If Dr. Mersini-Houghton’s theory is proven correct, then it will shake all the beliefs about the creation of the universe, as currently the scientists believe in the famous “Big Bang Theory,” which stipulates that our universe originated as a result of a singularity that began expanding. This is actually the definition of a white hole (the reverse of a black hole). How could that be possible if singularities do not exist, either as black or as white?
If proven correct, this response to the decades’ old attempt to unify the theory of relativity with quantum mechanics will result to even more questions than answers. Questions that exist since the beginning of time itself and up to now were thought to be answered. Questions like “Where do we come from?”
One thing is certain if black holes really do not exist. It will reignite religious fanaticism against science, which has disputed the dogma that everything was created by God. And until the question of the creation of the universe sees tangible scientific proof, the religious answer will be the only one available.