Oliver Thewalt

    Oliver Thewalt

    Theoretical Physics | Quantum Biology | Dark Matter Research | Energy Consulting | Creation of Hydrogen ATOM in the Higgs Field >> Vote for Nobel Prize

    Breakdown of predictability in gravitational collapse


    S. W. Hawking* 
    Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, England and California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California 91125

    Received 25 August 1975; published in the issue dated 15 November 1976

    The principle of equivalence, which says that gravity couples to the energy-momentum tensor of matter, and the quantum-mechanical requirement that energy should be positive imply that gravity is always attractive. This leads to singularities in any reasonable theory of gravitation. A singularity is a place where the classical concepts of space and time break down as do all the known laws of physics because they are all formulated on a classical space-time background. In this paper it is claimed that this breakdown is not merely a result of our ignorance of the correct theory but that it represents a fundamental limitation to our ability to predict the future, a limitation that is analogous but additional to the limitation imposed by the normal quantum-mechanical uncertainty principle. The new limitation arises because general relativity allows the causal structure of space-time to be very different from that of Minkowski space. The interaction region can be bounded not only by an initial surface on which data are given and a final surface on which measurements are made but also a "hidden surface" about which the observer has only limited information such as the mass, angular momentum, and charge. Concerning this hidden surface one has a "principle of ignorance": The surface emits with equal probability all configurations of particles compatible with the observers limited knowledge. It is shown that the ignorance principle holds for the quantum-mechanical evaporation of black holes: The black hole creates particles in pairs, with one particle always falling into the hole and the other possibly escaping to infinity. Because part of the information about the state of the system is lost down the hole, the final situation is represented by a density matrix rather than a pure quantum state. This means there is no S matrix for the process of black-hole formation and evaporation. Instead one has to introduce a new operator, called the superscattering operator, which maps density matrices describing the initial situation to density matrices describing the final situation.