Back in 2011, ground-breaking research by scientists at the University of York provided a new perspective on the physics of black holes. Black holes are objects in space that are so massive and compact they were described by Einstein as "bending" space. Conventional thinking asserts that black holes swallow everything that gets too close and that nothing can escape its "event horizon," but the study suggested that information could escape from black holes after all. The implications could be revolutionary, suggesting that gravity may not be a fundamental force of Nature.
But quantum mechanics is the theory of light and atoms, and many physicists are skeptical that it could be used to explain the slow evaporation of black holes without incorporating the effects of gravity.
The research, which appears in the Physical Review Letters, used the basic tenets of quantum mechanics to give a new description of information leaking from a black hole.
"Our results actually extend the predictions made by well-established techniques that rely on a detailed knowledge of space time and black hole geometry," added Braunstein.
"We cannot claim to have proven that escape from a black hole is truly possible, but that is the most straight-forward interpretation of our results," concluded. "Indeed, our results suggest that quantum information theory will play a key role in a future theory combining quantum mechanics and gravity."