Stephen Hawking’s has expressed his belief that there is no such thing as a conventional black hole, from which nothing can escape. In a paper released on 22 January, Hawking’s refuted the notion of an ‘event horizon’; an invisible boundary surrounding a black hole past which nothing can escape (a point of no return). He instead proposed an ‘apparent horizon’, which could only temporarily confine matter and energy before they were set free.
The paper titled ‘Information preservation and weather forecasting for black holes’ attempts to address the black-hole firewall paradox, which has baffled physicists for two years. The paradox was discovered by Joseph Polchinski and his colleagues when they were speculating about what would happen to an astronaut that fell into a black hole.
The team hypothesised that the event horizon would become a ‘highly energetic region’ a.k.a, a firewall and that the astronaut would collide with this firewall and burn to death. The problem is that this disobeyed Einstein’s theory of relativity, which states that free-falling in space is no different from floating in space. Since then a number of theories have surfaced to answer the problem but perhaps Hawking’s new paper draws us closer to finding out the fate of the falling astronaut.