The challenge of piecing together how the fundamental laws of nature work has been with us since our ancestors started looking up and asking the big questions. Centuries of scientific exploration bring us to what we know right now, including our understanding of quantum mechanics up to general relativity.
But that body of knowledge essentially ends on the doorstep to a black hole. The edge of a black hole is called the event horizon and scientists say that studying these horizons — literally, the edges of physical reality – may finally start to reveal answers to questions that keep modern physicists up at night.
Those questions are at the core of “The Edges of the Universe” with physicist Andrew Strominger. Register today.
Here is one of those big questions. One of the most glaring contradictions in physics today is the inability to reconcile quantum mechanics with general relativity. The mathematical inconsistencies that crop up when trying to combine these two tenets of physics still need to be solved.
String theory is one way we can do just that, but we won’t know if string theory is the theory of nature until we have experimental confirmation. In the meantime, we can use string theory as an example of a consistent theory of quantum gravity. In 1996, Andrew Strominger and Cumrun Vafa gave a complete quantum description of black holes in the language of string theory. They discovered that the vast amount of information stored inside a black hole [from Bekenstein-Hawking] actually exists as a hologram on the horizon of a black hole.
Andrew Strominger is a theoretical physicist at Harvard University who has made significant contributions to quantum gravity and string theory.