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Black holes and holograms: a new theory changes our understanding of the universe

Black holes and holograms: a new theory changes our understanding of the universe 31
Artistic illustration of a black hole.

Black holes became even more mysterious, but much more understandable.

Essentially, scientists theorize that black holes are like holograms, in which all the information to produce a three-dimensional image is encoded on a two-dimensional surface. This according to new research linking two discordant theories, published in Physical Review X.

As ordered by quantum theories, black holes can be incredibly complex and concentrate an enormous amount of information in two dimensions, similar to the largest hard drives in existence today.

This precise idea is in line with Einstein’s theory of relativity, which describes black holes as three-dimensional, simple, spherical, and smooth, something we really got to see when astronomers published the first image of a black 2019

In other words, black holes appear to be three-dimensional, just like holograms.

For astrophysicists, black holes present arduous theoretical challenges for several reasons. They are, on the one hand, excellent representatives of the great paradoxes of theoretical physics by combining the principles of Einstein’s general theory of relativity with those of quantum physics of gravity.

According to current theory, black holes are simple bodies with no information. According to quantum physics, as Jacob Bekenstein and Stephen Hawking theorized, they are the most complex existing systems known in the universe, because they are characterized by enormous entropy, which measures the complexity of a system and, consequently, contains much information.

To study black holes, the two authors of the new study, Francesco Benini and Paolo Milan, scientists from SISSA (International School for Advanced Studies) and INFN ( National Institute of Nuclear Physics), they used an idea established 30 years ago called holographic principle.

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In the new studies, the researchers explained that this innovative and somewhat counterintuitive principle proposes that the behavior of gravity in a given region of space can alternatively be expressed in terms of a complex system, living only along the edge of the region and therefore, in one less dimension.

Most importantly, the researchers explain that in this alternative (called holographic) description, gravity does not appear explicitly. In other words, the holographic principle allows us to describe gravity using language that does not contain gravity, thus avoiding friction with quantum mechanics.

Confused? It may seem like this, but it really isn’t. What Benini and Milan did was apply the theory of the holographic principle to black holes. In this way, their mysterious thermodynamic properties have become more understandable: they focus on predicting that these bodies have high entropy and examining them in terms of quantum mechanics, allowing us to describe them as a hologram: they have two dimensions, in whose gravity it disappears, but it reproduces an object in three dimensions.

But there is more. Much more.

According to the authors of the new studies, this is only the first step toward a deeper understanding of these cosmic bodies and the properties that characterize them when quantum mechanics intersects with general relativity.


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