Thursday, January 9, 2020

Black hole information is just philosophy

Physicist Coel is a big believer in science being able to answer all questions, he writes in a review of a philosophy ook:
But, equally, theoretical physicists don’t work with laboratory equipment, taking measurements, they work with ideas and concepts. The internal coherence of concepts about the world is just as much a concern for scientists as for philosophers.

A current example is the black-hole information paradox, where the paradox is that current models of black holes suggest that “information” (which itself is a highly abstract concept, not a direct observable) is destroyed when material falls into a black hole. And yet, a basic principle of quantum mechanics (the best theory of matter, thought to apply everywhere) says that information can never be destroyed. Trying to resolve the inconsistency is currently exercising many of the world’s top theoretical physicists, partly because the solution might point the way to a model of “quantum gravity”, the long-sought unification of quantum mechanics with general relativity. Yet this activity is entirely conceptual, since observations and experiments pertaining directly to the issue are way beyond current capabilities. Physicists still regard the enquiry as “scientific”, even if some philosophers might want to declare it to be “metaphysics”.
This is such a terrible example. Because information is such an abstract concept, we don't know if it is destroyed in a black hole or anywhere else.

Also, conserving information is not described as a basic principle of quantum mechanics in any textbook I have.

And there is no possibility that resolving this supposed paradox will ever have anything to do with quantum gravity.


  1. Suppose someone flies to the sun and tosses a book, a hard drive, and a photograph into the sun. All the information in these three entities will be destroyed.

  2. True.

    They just don't appreciate [understand?] the cascading/multiplying effects of the nonlinearities which do actually exist with every particle's interaction with any other particles---i.e., everywhere in the universe. That's in general.

    They know how weak gravity is w.r.t. EM/QM force-fields. But they don't even *get* the function (i.e. purpose) of the scales right. That's because they don't get the role of the nonlinearities right---at *any* scale, at *any* level of abstraction.

    If the nonlinearities weren't to be present even at the most fundamental level in the actual physical universe, some nuanced discussion would sure be possible.

    In such a (hypothetical) case, people could think of relativity as a "classical" theory---i.e., as a theory that inter-relates large assemblages of fundamental particles treated via some creative homogenization procedures, so that the assemblages could be treated as particles in their own right, at an abstract level.

    But that's not the case, when it comes to physical reality. Nonlinearity is the wrench thrown in their gears. And, they don't even realize it.

    That's why, factually, all their pouting become indistinguishable from philosophy---regardless of their scientific prestige.