Falling into a black hole has never seemed like an appealing prospect, with scientists suggesting that the enormous gravity might pull you into a long string, like spaghetti.
But a UC Berkeley mathematician says that in some black holes, you could survive – but your past would be ‘wiped’.
Not only that, but your past would stop determining your future – so you’d have an infinite number of possible futures.
According to UC Berkeley postdoctoral fellow Peter Hintz, mathematical calculations show that for some specific types of black holes in a universe like ours, which is expanding at an accelerating rate, it is possible to survive the passage from a deterministic world into a non-deterministic black hole.
In smooth, non-rotating black holes with a large electrical charge, so-called Reissner-Nordström-de Sitter black holes – an observer could survive passing through the Cauchy horizon and into a non-deterministic world.
Hintz says, ‘No physicist is going to travel into a black hole and measure it. This is a math question. But from that point of view, this makes Einstein’s equations mathematically more interesting.
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‘This is a question one can really only study mathematically, but it has physical, almost philosophical implications, which makes it very cool.’
The researchers write, ‘‘This … conclusion corresponds to a severe failure of determinism in general relativity that cannot be taken lightly in view of the importance in modern cosmology.’