March 2016: Chris Adami makes progress in unravelling black hole information paradox
Chris Adami, Professor in the Department of Microbiology & Molecular Genetics and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Physics & Astronomy, has partnered with Kamil Brádler of the University of Ottawa to create a detailed model of a black hole's interaction with its surrounding field of Hawking radiation. Their study has been published in the 11 March 2016 Physical Review Letters (http://journals.aps.org/prl/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevLett.116.101301)
There has been a long-standing puzzle involving black holes. The material which falls into a black hole contains pieces of quantifiable information (mass, energy, momentum, etc.). Steven Hawking demonstrated decades ago, however, that an isolated black hole will (very slowly) evaporate by emission of photons along its event horizon. This collection of photons, called Hawking radiation, does not by itself reproduce the information associated with the material within the black hole. This leads to the possibility that a black hole could eventually evaporate completely, and that original information could be lost forever. This contradicts certain assumptions underlying many "laws of nature" as they are currently understood.
Adami and Brádler's model incorporates the interaction between the Hawking radiation field and the black hole it surrounds, and early results indicate that this interaction may provide a way for the original information to re-enter the universe outside the black hole as part of the evaporation process. Further study is needed, but the results so far match certain theoretical requirements for avoiding the paradox of information loss while not requiring major new physics principles.
For more information on this topic, see this MSU Today article.