For decades, both scientists such as Stephen Hawking and ordinary people have been led to believe that black holes are among some of the most deadly forms of destruction as well as strangely intriguing scientific mysterious in the universe. Now, Hawking, has made it clear that he thinks the universe is not so “holey” after all.
Ironically, this is not the first time that Hawking has spoken up about his hypothesis. It was as early as 2004 when he first came forward with the notion that the original description of what a black hole is was somewhat inaccurate. Black and white are often viewed as extremes, which perhaps lends credibility to the notion that Hawking says “grey holes” are actually a more realistic description. A black hole has long been thought of as an ultimate dark void that traps all matter inside and never lets it escape. A grey hole is like a prison that takes matter in, keeps it there for a while and then spits it back out.
This new theory is substantial shift from the original conception of black holes. It was as early as the 1790s when John Mitchell and Pierre-Simon Laplace developed the notion that “invisible stars” may exist. Later in the year 1915, black holes were predicted thanks to Einstein’s theory of general relativity. The actual term “black hole” was finally coined in 1967 by theoretical physicist, John Wheeler. Finally, in 1976 Hawking concluded the “Hawking Radiation” hypothesis, which suggests a black hole radiates energy and loses its mass once it has formed.
Years later, in 2004 Stephen Hawking announced his newest discovery where he hypothesized the universe wasn’t so “holey” after all. He was given one hour to present his findings at the 17th International Conference on General Relativity and Gravitation in Dublin, Ireland. Ironically, proving his case would have lost him his own bet he and another physicist made against John Preskill of Caltech that “information swallowed by a black hole is gone forever.”
It was long believed that black holes were made up with a singularity at their core, which obeyed Einstein’s theory of general relativity. In simple terms, this states that someone in free fall would observe the state of physics being the same no matter where they were in the universe. It also states that black holes are surrounded by something called an “event horizon,” which simply refers to the idea of an invisible shroud that absolutely nothing can escape from, not even light. Stephen Hawking’s new theory introduces the idea that there is a part of a black hole called an “apparent horizon,” which suspends rays of light that try to escape from a black hole. The event horizon could (unlike an event horizon) eventually disappear and release whatever was trapped within the black hole.
If Stephen Hawking came to this conclusion about black holes actually being grey holes, why is it only being talked about now, 10 years into the future? Scientific progress takes time and although Hawking submitted a paper about his new theory on January 22, it still must pass a peer review to make the transition to go from being scientific theory to scientific fact. If it does, then thinking that the universe isn’t so “holey” might not be such a crazy notion after all.
By Jonathan Holowka