No Black Holes Exist, Says Stephen Hawking—At Least Not Like We Think

20140128-095753.jpgBlack holes do not exist—at least, not as we know them, says renowned physicist Stephen Hawking, potentially provoking a rethink of one of space’s most mysterious objects.

A new study from Hawking also says that black holes may not possess “firewalls,” destructive belts of radiation that some researchers have proposed would incinerate anything that passes through them but others scientists deem an impossibility.

The conventional view of black holes posits that their gravitational pull is so powerful that nothing can escape from them—not even light, which is why they’re called black holes. The boundary past which there is supposedly no return is known as the event horizon.

In this conception, all information about anything that ventures past a black hole’s event horizon is destroyed. On the other hand, quantum physics, the best description so far of how the universe behaves on a subatomic level, suggests that information cannot ever be destroyed, leading to a fundamental conflict in theory. —National Geographic