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霍金自我否定:黑洞不存在!

2014-01-27    来源:nature.com    【      美国外教 在线口语培训

据英国媒体1月24日报道,英国著名科学家斯蒂芬•霍金教授再次以其与黑洞有关的理论震惊物理学界。他在日前发表的一篇论文中承认,黑洞其实是不存在的,不过“灰洞”的确存在。

Stephen Hawking: 'There are no black holes'

Notion of an 'event horizon', from which nothing can escape, is incompatible with quantum theory, physicist claims.

In its stead, Hawking’s radical proposal is a much more benign “apparent horizon”, which only temporarily holds matter and energy prisoner before eventually releasing them, albeit in a more garbled form.

“There is no escape from a black hole in classical theory,” Hawking told Nature. Quantum theory, however, “enables energy and information to escape from a black hole”. A full explanation of the process, the physicist admits, would require a theory that successfully merges gravity with the other fundamental forces of nature. But that is a goal that has eluded physicists for nearly a century. “The correct treatment,” Hawking says, “remains a mystery.”

Hawking posted his paper on the arXiv preprint server on 22 January1. He titled it, whimsically, 'Information preservation and weather forecasting for black holes', and it has yet to pass peer review. The paper was based on a talk he gave via Skype at a meeting at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics in Santa Barbara, California, in August 2013 (watch video of the talk).

Fire fighting
Hawking's new work is an attempt to solve what is known as the black-hole firewall paradox, which has been vexing physicists for almost two years, after it was discovered by theoretical physicist Joseph Polchinski of the Kavli Institute and his colleagues (see 'Astrophysics: Fire in the hole!').

In a thought experiment, the researchers asked what would happen to an astronaut unlucky enough to fall into a black hole. Event horizons are mathematically simple consequences of Einstein's general theory of relativity that were first pointed out by the German astronomer Karl Schwarzschild in a letter he wrote to Einstein in late 1915, less than a month after the publication of the theory. In that picture, physicists had long assumed, the astronaut would happily pass through the event horizon, unaware of his or her impending doom, before gradually being pulled inwards — stretched out along the way, like spaghetti — and eventually crushed at the 'singularity', the black hole’s hypothetical infinitely dense core.

But on analysing the situation in detail, Polchinski’s team came to the startling realization that the laws of quantum mechanics, which govern particles on small scales, change the situation completely. Quantum theory, they said, dictates that the event horizon must actually be transformed into a highly energetic region, or 'firewall', that would burn the astronaut to a crisp.

This was alarming because, although the firewall obeyed quantum rules, it flouted Einstein’s general theory of relativity. According to that theory, someone in free fall should perceive the laws of physics as being identical everywhere in the Universe — whether they are falling into a black hole or floating in empty intergalactic space. As far as Einstein is concerned, the event horizon should be an unremarkable place.

Beyond the horizon
Now Hawking proposes a third, tantalizingly simple, option. Quantum mechanics and general relativity remain intact, but black holes simply do not have an event horizon to catch fire. The key to his claim is that quantum effects around the black hole cause space-time to fluctuate too wildly for a sharp boundary surface to exist.

In place of the event horizon, Hawking invokes an “apparent horizon”, a surface along which light rays attempting to rush away from the black hole’s core will be suspended. In general relativity, for an unchanging black hole, these two horizons are identical, because light trying to escape from inside a black hole can reach only as far as the event horizon and will be held there, as though stuck on a treadmill. However, the two horizons can, in principle, be distinguished. If more matter gets swallowed by the black hole, its event horizon will swell and grow larger than the apparent horizon.

Conversely, in the 1970s, Hawking also showed that black holes can slowly shrink, spewing out 'Hawking radiation'. In that case, the event horizon would, in theory, become smaller than the apparent horizon. Hawking’s new suggestion is that the apparent horizon is the real boundary. “The absence of event horizons means that there are no black holes — in the sense of regimes from which light can't escape to infinity,” Hawking writes.

“The picture Hawking gives sounds reasonable,” says Don Page, a physicist and expert on black holes at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, who collaborated with Hawking in the 1970s. “You could say that it is radical to propose there’s no event horizon. But these are highly quantum conditions, and there’s ambiguity about what space-time even is, let alone whether there is a definite region that can be marked as an event horizon.”

Although Page accepts Hawking’s proposal that a black hole could exist without an event horizon, he questions whether that alone is enough to get past the firewall paradox. The presence of even an ephemeral apparent horizon, he cautions, could well cause the same problems as does an event horizon.

Unlike the event horizon, the apparent horizon can eventually dissolve. Page notes that Hawking is opening the door to a scenario so extreme “that anything in principle can get out of a black hole”. Although Hawking does not specify in his paper exactly how an apparent horizon would disappear, Page speculates that when it has shrunk to a certain size, at which the effects of both quantum mechanics and gravity combine, it is plausible that it could vanish. At that point, whatever was once trapped within the black hole would be released (although not in good shape).

If Hawking is correct, there could even be no singularity at the core of the black hole. Instead, matter would be only temporarily held behind the apparent horizon, which would gradually move inward owing to the pull of the black hole, but would never quite crunch down to the centre. Information about this matter would not destroyed, but would be highly scrambled so that, as it is released through Hawking radiation, it would be in a vastly different form, making it almost impossible to work out what the swallowed objects once were.

“It would be worse than trying to reconstruct a book that you burned from its ashes,” says Page. In his paper, Hawking compares it to trying to forecast the weather ahead of time: in theory it is possible, but in practice it is too difficult to do with much accuracy.

Polchinski, however, is sceptical that black holes without an event horizon could exist in nature. The kind of violent fluctuations needed to erase it are too rare in the Universe, he says. “In Einstein’s gravity, the black-hole horizon is not so different from any other part of space,” says Polchinski. “We never see space-time fluctuate in our own neighbourhood: it is just too rare on large scales.”

Raphael Bousso, a theoretical physicist at the University of California, Berkeley, and a former student of Hawking's, says that this latest contribution highlights how “abhorrent” physicists find the potential existence of firewalls. However, he is also cautious about Hawking’s solution. “The idea that there are no points from which you cannot escape a black hole is in some ways an even more radical and problematic suggestion than the existence of firewalls,” he says. "But the fact that we’re still discussing such questions 40 years after Hawking’s first papers on black holes and information is testament to their enormous significance."

相关介绍:

在这篇名为《黑洞的信息保存与气象预报》(Information Preservation and Weather Forecasting For Black Holes)的论文中,霍金指出,由于找不到黑洞的边界,因此黑洞是不存在的。黑洞的边界又称“视界”。经典黑洞理论认为,黑洞外的物质和辐射可以通过视界进入黑洞内部,而黑洞内的任何物质和辐射均不能穿出视界。

霍金的最新“灰洞”理论认为,物质和能量在被黑洞困住一段时间以后,又会被重新释放到宇宙中。他在论文中承认,自己最初有关视界的认识是有缺陷的,光线其实是可以穿越视界的。当光线逃离黑洞核心时,它的运动就像人在跑步机上奔跑一样,慢慢地通过向外辐射而收缩。

“经典黑洞理论认为,任何物质和辐射都不能逃离黑洞,而量子力学理论表明,能量和信息是可以从黑洞中逃离出来的。”

霍金同时指出,对于这种逃离过程的解释需要一个能够将重力和其他基本力成功融合的理论。在过去近一百年间,物理学界没有人曾试图解释这一过程。

对于霍金的“灰洞”理论,一些科学家表示认可,但也有人持怀疑态度。美国卡夫立理论物理研究所的理论物理学家约瑟夫•波尔钦斯基(Joseph Polchinski)指出,根据爱因斯坦的重力理论,黑洞的边界是存在的,只是它与宇宙其他部分的区别并不明显。

其实,早在2004年霍金就曾做出过类似表示。当年7月21日,霍金在“第17届国际广义相对论和万有引力大会”上指出,黑洞并非如他和其他大多数物理学家以前认为的那样,对其周遭的一切“完全吞噬”,事实上被吸入黑洞深处的物质的某些信息可能会在某个时候释放出来。

1976年,霍金称自己通过计算得出结论,黑洞在形成过程中其质量减少的同时,还不断在以能量的形式向外界发出辐射。这就是著名的“霍金辐射”理论。但是,该理论提到的黑洞辐射中并不包括黑洞内部物质的任何信息,一旦这个黑洞浓缩并蒸发消失后,其中的所有信息就都随之消失了。这便是所谓的“黑洞悖论”。

这种说法与量子力学的相关理论出现相互矛盾之处。因为现代量子物理学认定这种物质信息是永远不会完全消失的。30多年来,霍金试图以各种推测来解释这一自相矛盾的观点。霍金曾表示,黑洞中量子运动是一种特殊情况,由于黑洞中的引力非常强烈,量子力学在此时已经不再适用了。但是霍金的这种说法并没有让科学界众多持怀疑态度学者信服。

现在看来,霍金终于给了这个当年自相矛盾的观点一个更具有说服力的答案。霍金称,黑洞从来都不会完全关闭自身,它们在一段漫长的时间里逐步向外界辐射出越来越多的热量,随后黑洞将最终开放自己并释放出其中包含的物质信息。



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