Black Holes: Truth and Myth

The idea of black holes have ignited the imaginations of both scientists and sci-fi enthusiasts throughout the 20th century. While both popular media and science has made them out, somewhat, to be harbingers of cosmic destruction this may not be the case. According to the “fuzzball theory”, put forth by Ohio State University professor of physics Samir Mathur, this may not be the case, as the Victor crew found out.

While some recent researchers have developed a “firewall theory” – the theory that black holes destroy everything they touch – Mathur proposes that the Earth could be enveloped by a black hole and we wouldn’t even know it.

Marthur’s fuzzball theory, more than a decade old now, looks at black holes as tangled up balls of cosmic strings. This theory resolved some contradictions about black holes. From this theory another group of researchers developed their firewall theory. Marthur and his team have been working on expanding their fuzzball theory and now believe that black holes are more like intergalactic copy machines. They have theorized that when something touches a black hole it becomes a hologram of sorts. A near-perfect copy of itself that continues to exist just as before.

The idea of “near-perfect” is the point of disagreement between the fuzzball and firewall theories. In physics there is a hypothesis called “complementarity” which dictates that such a hologram as Marthur suggests has to be perfect. The firewall theory states Marthur’s hologram can’t exist unless it is a perfect copy.

The ins and outs of complementarity in physics is quite complex. Though famous physicist Stephen Hawking has stated that he believes the Universe to be imperfect and that he believes that matter that falls into a black hole becomes part of the black hole, rather than being destroyed.

The implications of the fuzzball-firewall issue are profound. One of the tenets of string theory is that our three-dimensional existence – four-dimensional if you count time – might actually be a hologram on a surface that exists in many more dimensions.

At the very least, it sounds like a great movie plot!