Hawking’s Final Black Hole Research Paper: Black Hole Entropy & Soft Hair

Stephen William Hawking‘s final black hole research paper before his death on Einstein’s birthday, Black Hole Entropy & Soft Hair, has been released via Cornell University Library. The paper was written in collaboration with Cambridge and Harvard researchers, Sasha Haco, Malcolm J. Perry and Andrew Strominger.

The paper deals primarily with the conundrum know as the Information Paradox which states that information (underlying quantum wave-function) can never be destroyed and that information taken into a black hole can never escape, yet, black holes, as Hawking posited in the 1970s, have a temperature and since they have a temperature they will eventually dissipate and if they dissipate then so too shall the information there contained, thus engendering a paradox. Something that theoretically cannot happen MUST happen as per the theory. If the information cannot be destroyed but cannot escape, then where does it go? Does it go anywhere?

Two prominent lines of argument arose:

  • Black don’t actually evaporate. Hawking was wrong.
  • Or, black holes DO evaporate. Hawking was right. The information is hyper-compressed into a space which remains after a black hole vanishes.

Hawking, Strominger, Perry and Haco instead posit that a black hole’s outgoing radiation (Hawking Radiation) is imprinted with the information previously imprinted on the black hole on photons which Strominger termed “soft hairs” and is thus returned to the universe, resolving the paradox. Neither soft hairs nor Hawking Radiation has been proven to exist but it makes sense via the formal logic being applied to black holes. Hopefully, it can, at the least, be utilized as a stepping stone for physicists studying black holes moving forward.

The abstract to the monograph is provided below.

Abstract: A set of infinitesimal Virasoro L ⊗ Virasoro R diffeomorphisms are presented which act non-trivially on the horizon of a generic Kerr black hole with spin J. The covariant phase space formalism provides a formula for the Virasoro charges as surface integrals on the horizon. Integrability and associativity of the charge algebra are shown to require the inclusion of ‘Wald-Zoupas’ counterterms. A counterterm satisfying the known consistency requirement is constructed and yields central charges cL = cR = 12J. Assuming the existence of a quantum Hilbert space on which these charges generate the symmetries, as well as the applicability of the Cardy formula, the central charges reproduce the macroscopic area-entropy law for generic Kerr black holes.

PDF of the paper: Hawking et al. (2018) Black Hole Entropy & Soft Hair

The Opposition Identity of the Anti-Tribe

I’ve long been skeptical of the negation crew, the “anti” crowd, those individuals or groups who when asked who they are and what they stand for reply, “I am against X!” There are the “skeptics” who are wholly against all and any religions; the SJWs who are wholly against anything that they perceive as masculine, aggressive, racist or sexist; there are the puritanical religious – the deniers of the body – who gasp and flail at the faintest stirring of erotic passion; then there are the “new ageists” who are perhaps the epitome of the skeptic foil, those who languish in a jellied slush of “mystical” half-measures, neither a creature of faith nor truly one of hard verticality. There are also the anti-statist who, like Rousseau, seek to see man placed outside the grasp of “The Tyrants,” who pervert his very nature by their iron programs and thus stymie his ability to live in the rightful state of peace and freedom. Then there is the ironycel, who wages total war on forthright meaning and serious (“I was just joking – don’t take everything so seriously, bro…”) and also the hedonist who stands in total opposition to any and all impulse restraint. The list could go on and on; reams upon reams, enough to fill up the center of the earth, with enough left over to blot out the sun.

It is not for our purposes to trace the origins nor map the structures of any of the aforementioned groups – rather it is to remark upon the one thing they all share – they are all, without exception, defined either largely or entirely by what they oppose. Theirs is a identity of opposition. They are reactive, rather than proactive. Defined by circumstance rather than defining it. For stable construction, in any serious political sense, such tribes can offer one nothing, for they have nothing but derisive jeers – hardly the solid stuff one should be seeking. They have not the glue to hold a body politic together for they do not themselves know who they are nor what they stand for all that they know is that they are not what they oppose. They are NOT X, but not necessarily Y or Z.

What defines a body politic is its identity, this also drives such entities to oppose others; that is to say, when tribe X’s culture (the manifestation of their identity) finds itself incongruent with tribe Y, it behooves tribe Y to push back against it and make X conform (at least to some more desirable degree) to their outward expression of collective self. Failing this, there can be naught but war. But the anti-collective – the group who knows not who they are, nor what they stand for, nor where they are going – can not take the path of reprisal for they can not form a coherent political body (and even if they could they could only keep it so long as “the other” whom they opposed remained a active and present force, whether actually or mythically). The ephemeral formalism of the anti-tribes, useful for short-span guerrilla combat of the mind, is wholly useless for times of peace (and there should be little distinction made between peace from real-world combat and combat of a more ideological persuasion) as they do not have internal structure to their various, tangentially related collectives (often they have no reason for being a collective at all once their “threat,” their pet-problem, is removed). Due to the fact that the anti-tribes persist only so that X,Y & Z shall not, when another problem arises that is falls not within the purview of their own problem-set, they are like to ignore it or sublimate themselves to it (the case of the modern American Christian who constantly wails about Muslim “invaders,” but shows little to no concern about Zionist radicals destabilizing his nation).

It is, for all these aforementioned reasons, pertinent for those who are seeking a more stable ordering to things to treat the anti-tribes with the greatest of caution. For, as the old adage goes, it takes but one rotten apple to ruin the entire barrel.