Possibly, possibly

‘Quantum hair’ could resolve Hawking’s black hole paradox, say scientists

Although I recall a (Jerry Pournelle I think?) essay of 40 years ago entitled “Do fuzzy black holes have hair?” or the like which looked at exactly this and Hawking’s thoughts on it.

The specific answer was different*, a difference, aha, of hairstyle. But still….

*As everything, but everything, vibrates around the Planck Constant therefore so does the Schwarzschild Radius and thus black holes do not have an absolute limit – they have hair. Yes, I know, appalling science description but that’s the gist of it.

38 thoughts on “Possibly, possibly”

  1. Never mind Pournelle, the “black holes have no hair” bit was mainstream physics. I think it was Wheeler’s paper that had that title or at least introduced the idea. I read the new paper yesterday and it looks good (although it was never my area of physics, so I’ll wait for the specialists to try picking holes).

    Basically all papers up to now that went “look, a paradox” had done their calculations using quantum physics for matter but classical spacetime, the new one goes “but you have to use quantum spacetime as well and the spacetime inside the black hole is entangled with the Hawking radiation emitted, so unitarity is maintained”. Which is what the “quantum hair” business is all about.

    Henceforth I’m going to point out to people that although I’m bald in the classical sense, when you use quantum physics I do have hair.

  2. Interesting subject, isn’t it? Yeah, I can remember the Jerry Pournelle piece & vaguely understanding it. So, in 40 years, we haven’t come that far.
    I’ve a nagging suspicion. The problem’s mathematicians. Mathematicians like their solutions to be elegant. Constants should be constant. Maybe they’re not.
    Here’s one. A²+B²=C² Pythagoras’ Theorem for a right angled triangle. Always true? On a two dimensional plane it is. Draw your triangle on curved surface it isn’t. Nor do the vertices sum to 180°
    Mathematicians like to assume the universe is homogeneous. That the mathematics will identical across it. What if it isn’t? That its underlying structure is granular. Pi isn’t the same everywhere. Nor’s the speed of light, the gravitational constant or even the quality of time.
    Bit of a bugger for mathematicians. Inconceivable. So they don’t.

  3. Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    I tend to think that tachyons could resolve some of the information-loss theories. After all, if particles inside a black hole produce tachyons, the event horizon would not stop them!

  4. “Black holes have no hair, but they’re fuzzy. Because they’re fuzzy, they’re not really black” was how Pournelle opened it, and then went on to explain what that meant (while cheerfully admitting that the parts with the fourth-order differential equations, had gone right over his head)

    But then those were the days when sci-fi actually did science (I learned general relativity from Haldeman’s “The Forever War”…) which is a relative rarity these days – “The Expanse” is a relative rarity where the known laws of physics get a say, and the places where “we don’t know how this magic gateway works” are actually dangerous and scary.

  5. “But then those were the days when sci-fi actually did science”
    Pournelle’s mate, Larry Niven. His novels were good because of the general absence of clever “black boxes” negated the laws of physics. But you learn some of them. Iain M Banks? Almost a physics free area. All black boxes.

  6. The Expanse is clever but ignores the scale of the Solar System. Asteroids are as far from each other as Mars & Earth. And travelling around in the “Belt” in reasonable time would require the same sort of DeltaV as interplanetary voyages. So a “Belt Community” would be an impossibility.

  7. A bit of a coincidence this as I’m 1/2 way through Leonard Suskind’s black hole war. I haven’t got to the bit yet where Leonard sussed out Hawking, so far its all lead up.

    ARTHUR TC :I think he said it was wheeler who came up with the term “black hole”, over dark star, which was rejected a few times by publications – as obscene (?) but he persevered and here we are.

  8. Theoretical physics seems to me to be one Deus ex Machina after another, a bit like Richard Murphy’s solutions to problems in economics.

    I suggest the next convenient particle that solves a problem in physics be called Murphy’s Sphincter.

  9. @BiS
    “Mathematicians like to assume the universe is homogeneous. That the mathematics will identical across it. What if it isn’t? That its underlying structure is granular. Pi isn’t the same everywhere. Nor’s the speed of light, the gravitational constant or even the quality of time.”

    Noether’s Theory: Every symmetry is equivalent to a ‘law’ of conservation.
    Symmetry wrt position, i.e. the laws of physics HERE are the same as they are OVER THERE: Law of conservaion of momentum.
    Symmetry wrt time, i.e. the laws of physics NOW are the same as they were BACK THEN: Law of conservaion of mass/energy.

    And since looking deep into space is also looking back in time, there seems to be astronomical support for such symmetries being valid, atleast as far back as we can see. Close to the Big Bang, all bets are off.

    Mind you, these are the same astronomers that tell us that 1 = 20, if one allows for ‘dark matter’ of 19 on the LHS. Anyone that can fudge such numbers must be trustworthy. Were they trained in Ely?

  10. BiS – fairly sure that at the end of The Ragged Astronauts, Aldiss casually drops in the fact that having got to Overland, the protagonists discover that Pi isn’t three anymore.

  11. Quite TtC. Mathematicians like symmetries. Because symmetries produce elegant mathematics. And without elegant mathematics, where are mathematicians?
    Dark Matter.
    Let’s posit 1+1 does not always equal 2. That 1+1 can be 2 in others. So in a granular universe, matter would tend to accumulate in areas where 1+1=>2 because gravity has more gravity. And areas where 1+1=<2 would have less matter. 1+1=<2 could be regarded as a repulsive force as far as gravity is concerned. So you remove the need for dark matter to account for the apparent lack of mass of normal matter for galaxy formation.
    But that completely fucks mathematicians.

  12. “Pythagoras’ Theorem for a right angled triangle. Always true? On a two dimensional plane it is.” And since the triangle was defined to be on a plane then, yes, it’s always true.

  13. @Ted
    1 orange + 1 orange does indeed = 2 oranges on a local scale. Why presume that is true on a larger scale? Apart from it justifying mathematics?
    @dearieme
    Why presume a 2 dimensional plane exists on other than a local scale apart from to justify mathematics?

  14. Apart from mathematical theory, 2 dimensional planes don’t exist. They’re a mathematical convenience to make the theories work. We live in a 3 dimensional world, so in reality the 3rd dimension always intrudes. Pythagoras’ Theory is never exactly true in the real world. Try doing the 3:4:5 ratio thing with real objects not maths.

  15. His novels were good because of the general absence of clever “black boxes” negated the laws of physics.

    Niven’s “Ringworld” had teleports and faster-than-light space travel. Maybe those are so ubiquitous they don’t count.

    The Expanse is clever but ignores the scale of the Solar System. Asteroids are as far from each other as Mars & Earth. And travelling around in the “Belt” in reasonable time would require the same sort of DeltaV as interplanetary voyages. So a “Belt Community” would be an impossibility.

    The Expanse’s black box was the Epstein Drive, which enabled constant acceleration / deceleration and thus fast journey times. As black boxes go it was pretty reasonable.

    The Expanse TV show’s main problem was Dominique Tipper, who seemed to have travelled through a wormhole from the set of East Enders, having been stripped of an ability to act.

  16. There are (give or take a few) 8.7 million species on planet earth. It seems 8,699,999 are incapable of comprehending very much at all beyond the limits of their existence, let alone the nature of the universe. I’m not saying the remaining one shouldn’t give it a go, but let’s consider the odds.

    [wise Chinese accent]
    “No matter how eloquently a dog may bark, he cannot tell you that his mother was poor but honest.”
    – English version of Monkey

  17. The Expanse’s black box was the Epstein Drive, which enabled constant acceleration / deceleration and thus fast journey times. As black boxes go it was pretty reasonable.
    It doesn’t matter what black box drive one imagines. Earth or Mars will always be closer from various asteroids than they are to each other. The asteroid belt is nothing like it’s portrayed in movies with lots of rocks within sight of each other. The volume of space is gigantic. Even the smallest are millions of miles apart. It’d be like having a Confederation of Small Islands encompassing all 7 oceans. What’s St Lucia got in common with Atka in the Bering Sea & Truk in the Pacific that they haven’t with their adjacent land masses? Confederations of the moons of Jupiter or Saturn possibly, but not the Belt. It’s an astronomer’s description from an Earth perspective, not a place.

  18. Niven’s “Ringworld” had teleports and faster-than-light space travel. Maybe those are so ubiquitous they don’t count.
    Most of the Known Space novels are set before the Outsiders sold the FTL drive to (?Wunderland or Plateau?) And the Outsiders didn’t use it. Even after, coping with physics are half of the plotlines.
    Flashcrowd is a remarkable prediction of Twitterstorms on the interweb, for pre-interweb reality. Although you have to hand it for Gibson for creating cyberspace culture before Cyberspace.

  19. @BiS: “Let’s posit 1+1 does not always equal 2.”

    One of the Unorthodox Engineers stories by Colin Kapp posits exactly that as part of its plot.

  20. Orbital dynamics. A point somewhere between Mars & Earth orbit would be the acceleration/deceleration turnover for any direct continually powered transit between most asteroid pairs. Further in opposition requires a closer solar partial orbit.

  21. The asteroid belt . . .

    The “Belt” as described in the franchise was pretty much everything beyond Mars that wasn’t specifically controlled by the “Inners”. Right out to the distant planets. And “Belters” were a pretty fractious lot.

    The worldwide British Empire, sub-continents and remote islands, held together at the speed of sail; months and years. If you have transit speeds akin to modern container shipping then trade and alliances between far flung places are easy.

    Even the smallest are millions of miles apart.

    Some asteroids are multiple systems, with distances ranging from touching out through tens or hundreds of km.

    This is ridiculous and we are anoraks.

  22. “No matter how eloquently a dog may bark, he cannot tell you that his mother was poor but honest.”
    “If you give a man a hammer he’ll treat everything as a nail.” may well apply to mathematicians.

  23. @BiS

    You seem to be confusing mathematics and mathematical physics. Mathematicians don’t give a stuff about what happens in the real world, they create an elegant set of (somewhat arbitrary) axioms and see what follows, in the hopes that it might be of interest. It happens from time to time that what follows is applicable to the real universe (see The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences by Eugene Wigner), but often it isn’t – classification of finite groups for instance, in which the ‘monster’ relates to various symmetries in 196,883 dimensions.

    Bottom line – it’s possible to conceive of a universe with 5 dimensions, but it isn’t possible to conceive of a universe in which 5 is not a prime number.

  24. Then stop having a dig at mathematicians. Have a go at mathematical physicists, and I’ll happily join in. 🙂

    BTW it’s a pleasure to see someone else so familiar with the Niven universe. But I don’t agree with your ‘ΔV makes a belt civilisation impossible’ argument – much of the ΔV needed for interplanetary travel is required for lifting off from the planet’s surface, which is not a factor in travel from Ceres to Vesta. “Once you’re in orbit, you’re half way to anywhere.”

  25. One of the Motie books very accurately described today’s always-connected society. Something like:

    “(The Commander) waited for the delegates to sit. For several minutes their pads tweeted and bleeped as they connected to the shipboard computers and they updated themselves.”

    Who nowadays has never had a meeting where you have to wait for twats to stop twatting before the meeting can start?

  26. “Once you’re in orbit, you’re half way to anywhere”
    True if you’re travelling in Hohmann transfer orbits or similar. But that would require 4 or 5 years to travel from one asteroid to another. Start talking continuous acceleration trajectories & the delta V’s & attained velocities are enormous. Far greater than to achieve Earth orbit. To go a sixth of the way round the belt in a month would require a peak velocity of over 200km/sec says the back of this envelope. LEO requires a bit over 9

  27. BiS: “If you give a man a hammer he’ll treat everything as a nail.”

    Yes. I love the soothing satisfaction of successfully applied percussive maintenance.
    It’s amazing how well-behaved machinery becomes when they suss you got a Hammer..

    When it comes to space travel in our neck of the woods, Heinlein’s universes are pretty accurate.
    Plus that if I remember correctly, in the Rolling Stones, where he did have asteroid colonies and whatnot he heavily implied peeps used the big ‘uns as bases, using the clusters, and prospected Way Out.
    And the only “black box” he used was an atomic pile “classic” rocket engine, capable of sustaining 1g accelleration for days.. That makes for some mighty speedy ships..
    Although, like the Stone family, most of time he let people use economic orbits with weeks/months of free-fall after the initial accelleration.

    And now I want a martian flat-cat.. dammit..

  28. Interesting that the panel thinks aliens would get the concept of prime numbers.
    I wonder if they would get concepts such as more supply reduces prices.
    One tonne of geusium added to one tonne of geusium gives you two tonnes of the stuff. Maths.

    But look at you with that new technology to go from one to two, your profits are only up by square root of increased production * 1/lifeform life expectancy * 1/already sated universe demand. Or something. I think aliens sufficiently advanced to do interstellar travel would get supply/demand curves too.

  29. “Interesting that the panel thinks aliens would get the concept of prime numbers.”
    Do we? Do the larger primes have any use apart from cryptography?
    I’m imagining a couple of aliens trying to converse with earthlings.
    “Hey. These guys have started talking about numbers are only divisible by themselves”
    “Why? What so special about them?”
    “Dunno. They must be really really anal. Let’s go to another planet”

  30. To go a sixth of the way round the belt in a month would require a peak velocity of over 200km/sec says the back of this envelope.

    At a constant acceleration of 10m/s/s that speed would take take 5.6 hours to achieve. 864km/s in a day at that burn. A 10 day journey with that 1g-ish burn would be 18,662,400,000km (less the trivial amount of time and hence distance needed to reorient the drive to decelerate at the end of day 5).
    As noted before, the handwave of the Epstein drive gets around the “How do you maintain that acceleration so long?”, which means the times don’t seem outrageous, even given Martians and Belters probably needing a lower acceleration.

  31. Now calculate he energy release of hitting a 100th gram dust particle at that velocity. I think you’ll be surprised.
    And if one can sustain 1g accelerations, c comes up in about a year & the nearest star is 4 years travel away, although the travel time for the crew is far shorter due to relativistic time dilation.
    Back home, the solar system is very small place travel wise with unlimited access to energy & fabulously wealthy. So the Belt has no reason to succeed.

  32. It’s the usual failing of Space Opera. The author invents some technology to enable the storyline but omits to realise the implications for the society he’s imagining. Speculative Fiction, the other SF, specialises in it.

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