Stephen Hawking's black hole theory proved right - Big Think
Jun 23, 2021 3 mins, 36 secs

New study analyzes gravitational waves to confirm the late Stephen Hawking's black hole area theorem.

Model of spiraling black holes that are merging with each other.

The late Stephen Hawking's black hole area theorem is correct, a new study shows.

The theorem, elaborated by Hawking in 1971, uses Einstein's theory of general relativity as a springboard to conclude that it is not possible for the surface area of a black hole to become smaller over time.

Since the entropy of a black hole is proportional to its surface area, both must continue to increase.

As a black hole gobbles up more matter, its mass and surface area grow.

But as it grows, it also spins faster, which decreases its surface area.

Hawking's theorem maintains that the increase in surface area that comes from the added mass would always be larger than the decrease in surface area because of the added spin.

Will Farr, one of the co-authors of the study that was published in Physical Review Letters, said their finding demonstrates that "black hole areas are something fundamental and important." His colleague Maximiliano Isi agreed in an interview with Live Science: "Black holes have an entropy, and it's proportional to their area.

Einstein showed that very massive, accelerating space objects like neutron stars or black holes that orbit each other could cause disturbances in spacetime.

The gravitational waves discovered by LIGO's 3,000-kilometer-long laser beam, which can detect the smallest distortions in spacetime, were generated 1.3 billion years ago by two giant black holes that were quickly spiraling toward each other.

Confirming Hawking's black hole area theorem.

The researchers separated the signal into two parts, depending on whether it was from before or after the black holes merged.

This allowed them to figure out the mass and spin of the original black holes as well as the mass and spin of the merged black hole.

With this information, they calculated the surface areas of the black holes before and after the merger.

"What you're left with is a new black hole that's in this excited state, which you can then study by analyzing how it's vibrating.

The surface area of the resulting black holes was larger than the combined area of the original black holes.

This conformed to Hawking's area law.

The Drake equation is an example of a broader issue in the scientific community—considering the sheer size of the universe and our knowledge that intelligence life has evolved at least once, there should be evidence for alien life.

A better question, albeit a more troubling one, might be “What happened to everybody?" Unlike asking where life exists in the universe, there's a clearer potential answer to this question: the Great Filter.

Therefore, it could be the case that somewhere along the trajectory of life's development, there is a massive and common challenge that ends alien life before it becomes intelligent enough and widespread enough for us to see—a great filter.

The Great Filter could occur at the very earliest stages of life.

These possibilities assume that the Great Filter is behind us—that humanity is a lucky species that overcame a hurdle almost all other life fails to pass.

The bleak, counterintuitive suggestion of the Great Filter is that it would be a bad sign for humanity to find alien life, especially alien life with a degree of technological advancement similar to our own.

If our galaxy is truly empty and dead, it becomes more likely that we've already passed through the Great Filter.

If we find another alien civilization, but not a cosmos teeming with a variety of alien civilizations, the implication is that the Great Filter lies ahead of us.

The galaxy should be full of life, but it is not; one other instance of life would suggest that the many other civilizations that should be there were wiped out by some catastrophe that we and our alien counterparts have yet to face.

They have engaged in stunts to expose the technical flaws in voting, communications, and security systems widely used by, or imposed on, the public (by playing chess with Germany's election voting machines, hacking the German Bildschirmtext system, and stealing ministers' biometric identifiers).

They have created black markets to evade state justice systems (such as Silk Road on the dark web) and cryptocurrencies that could undermine state-regulated monetary systems.


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