Black holes get a bad rap. Sure, they're the dark, unknown, unforgiving vacuum cleaners of space. But a new study suggests they may not be all doom and gloom after all.
There are several theories as to what would happen if you fell into a black hole: that you would get stretched into spaghetti, or that a wall of fire would incinerate you. New calculations from Ohio State physicist Samir Mathur suggest nothing so morbid. In fact, if a black hole ate the world right now, he says, we might not even notice.
Mathur posits that material that touches a black hole, instead of being destroyed, might turn into a near-perfect hologram. And if that's not trippy enough, consider the fact that we may be living in a hologram right now.
The paper hasn't yet been peer-reviewed, as far as we can tell, and it will surely be controversial--although not for reasons a normal person might expect. An idea called complementarity suggests that any hologram created by a black hole needs to be precisely perfect. But that's not possible, other physicists argue, so surely getting sucked into a black hole means death. Mathur's idea lies somewhere in between, with black holes creating holograms that are imperfect—just like the rest of the universe.