What are black holes? What’s happening inside of them? You can’t tell from the outside… but could you travel through one to find out? From his BBC Reith Lecture and animated by Aardman Studios for BBCRadio4, British theoretical physicist, cosmologist and author Professor Stephen Hawking briefly explains black holes and why they “ain’t as black as they are painted.”

Theoretical physicists attempt to understand the laws governing the universe by using “mathematical models and abstractions of physical objects and systems to rationalize, explain and predict natural phenomena” rather than conducting hands-on experiments. Could someone theoretically escape from a black hole? From Muon Ray on Hawking’s lecture, filmed at the University of Southern California College of Letters, Arts and Sciences:

“If you feel you are in a black hole, don’t give up,” says Professor Hawking. Black holes are the remains of stars that have collapsed under their own gravity, producing gravitational forces so strong that even light can’t escape. Anything that falls inside is thought to be ripped apart by the massive gravity, never to been seen or heard from again.

…physicists have been arguing for 40 years about what happens to the information about the physical state of those objects once they fall in. Quantum mechanics says that this information cannot be destroyed, but general relativity says it must be – that’s why this argument is known as the information paradox.

Now Hawking says this information never makes it inside the black hole in the first place. “I propose that the information is stored not in the interior of the black hole as one might expect, but on its boundary, the event horizon…”

Related reading: Stephen Hawking Hasn’t Solved the Black Hole Paradox Just Yet and Will the ‘Information Paradox’ Pioneered by Stephen Hawking Ever Be Resolved?

Next: Taking the very first picture of a black hole and Why every picture of a black hole is an illustration.

Thanks, @HP_Saucerer.

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