All those movies about information coming out of a black hole may be touching on real world science. Physicists have calculated a way to retrieve bits of information that “evaporates” out of black holes. Of course, they haven’t figured out how it happens or if the information may create more questions than answers, but it is a step toward discovering the many wonders of black holes.
What do they know so far? Although quantum mechanics deals in probabilities, quantum waves are thought to be predictable, but combine this with the black hole-particle system, and you get an impossible to predict outcome…maybe.
In 1974, Stephen Hawking, well-known British theorist and author, argued that black holes can radiate energy and slowly evaporate. As quantum particles flit in and out of existence close to black hole’s boundary, one may fly out into space for scientists to obtain a bit of information. How exactly?
Scientists from California Institute of Technology (CIT) in Pasadena think they have found a way to retrieve information from this one quantum particle that escapes from the black hole with the help of Hawking’s concept of quantum teleportation and the information encoded in the radiation (photon) emerging from the black hole.
Quantum teleportation, quantum information being transmitted from one location to another, is the key to retrieving this information. When two particles have a shared group of particles, they are considered to have a quantum entanglement that interacts in a way where their quantum state cannot be described independently. They can then transmit information from one location to another. If one of these particles happens to be a photon, that information can radiate out of the black hole.
If you made it through that “simplified” version of the events and are still confused, you are not alone. My son gave me the same glazed over look you probably have right now, so if you’re still willing to keep going, let me put it in another way.
Let’s say we have two particles, each containing two electrons. One electron from, we’ll call it particle A, is entangled with the another electron from particle B. The entangled electrons are in what is known as quantum entanglement. Information can be transmitted from location to another in this state. Now, when particle A becomes entangled with one photon from a pair of photons born from Hawking radiation, the information shared (total angular momentum or spin of the black hole) can be transmitted out of the black hole, via the photon, where scientists can read the information.
Of course, this only gives scientists a small bit of information. In order to really understand all the complexities of black holes, they would need information from the interior. Welcome to the world of science…one bit at a time.
If your kids are still intrigued, great! You may have just created a little scientist. Need more information? Check out the sources below for the intricate details, or check out the link below on black holes.