Stephen Hawking’s New Lecture, “Do Black Holes Have No Hair?,” Animated with Chalkboard Illustrations

You can now hear in full on the BBC’s web­site the first part of Stephen Hawk­ing’s 2016 Rei­th Lec­ture—“Do Black Holes Have No Hair?” Just above, lis­ten to Hawk­ing’s lec­ture while you fol­low along with an ani­mat­ed chalk­board on which artist Andrew Park sketch­es out the key points in help­ful images and dia­grams. We alert­ed you to the com­ing lec­ture this past Tues­day, and we also point­ed you toward the paper Hawk­ing recent­ly post­ed online, “Soft Hair on Black Holes,” co-authored with Mal­colm J. Per­ry and Andrew Stro­minger. There, Hawk­ing argues that black holes may indeed have “hair,” or waves of zero-ener­gy par­ti­cles that store infor­ma­tion pre­vi­ous­ly thought lost.

The arti­cle is tough going for any­one with­out a back­ground in the­o­ret­i­cal physics, but Hawk­ing’s talk above makes these ideas approach­able, with­out dumb­ing them down. He has a win­ning way of com­mu­ni­cat­ing with every­day exam­ples and wit­ti­cisms, and Park’s illus­tra­tions fur­ther help make sense of things. Hawk­ing begins with a brief his­to­ry of black hole the­o­ry, then builds slow­ly to his the­sis: as the BBC puts it, rather than see black holes as “scary, destruc­tive and dark he says if prop­er­ly under­stood, they could unlock the deep­est secrets of the cos­mos.”

Hawk­ing is intro­duced by BBC broad­cast­er Sue Law­ley, who also chairs a ques­tion-and-answer ses­sion (in the full lec­ture audio) with a few select Radio 4 lis­ten­ers whose ques­tions Hawk­ing chose from hun­dreds sub­mit­ted to the BBC. Stay tuned for Part Two, which should come online short­ly after Tues­day’s broad­cast.

The short ani­mat­ed video above gives us a tan­ta­liz­ing excerpt from Hawk­ing’s sec­ond talk. “If you feel you are in a black hole,” he says reas­sur­ing­ly, “don’t give up. There’s a way out.” That nice lit­tle aside is but one of many col­or­ful ways Hawk­ing has of express­ing him­self when dis­cussing the the­o­ret­i­cal physics of black holes, a sub­ject that could turn dead­ly seri­ous, and—speaking for myself—incomprehensible. As far as I know, black holes work in the real uni­verse just like they do in Inter­stel­lar.

I kid, but there is, how­ev­er, at least one way in which Christo­pher Nolan’s apoc­a­lyp­tic space fan­ta­sy with its improb­a­bly hap­py end­ing may not be total hokum: as Hawk­ing the­o­rizes above, cer­tain par­ti­cles (or anti-par­ti­cles) may escape from a black hole, “to infin­i­ty,” he says, or “pos­si­bly to anoth­er uni­verse.” The main idea, says Hawk­ing, is that black holes “are not the eter­nal pris­ons they were once thought.” Or, in oth­er words, “black holes ain’t as black as they are paint­ed,” which also hap­pens to be the title of his next talk. Stay tuned: we’ll bring you more of Hawk­ing’s fas­ci­nat­ing black hole the­o­ry soon.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Psy­che­del­ic Ani­ma­tion Takes You Inside the Mind of Stephen Hawk­ing

The Big Ideas of Stephen Hawk­ing Explained with Sim­ple Ani­ma­tion

Watch A Brief His­to­ry of Time, Errol Mor­ris’ Film About the Life & Work of Stephen Hawk­ing

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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  • Hong Phan says:

    I was thinking:Universe is endless.Then based on the said:“Our Universe”,means a val­ue of Dimension.Then I look at the Black Hole,my thought process:a must this con­nect with the other,call Universes.And as Doc­tor Stephen Hawk­ing said:may it the Infinity.If Plan­ets had been born and die,the what Doc­tor Hawk­ing said “a Store”,it is reasonable.Physic use to con­sid­er present of Source,mean it was come out from some­where (or generated).Doctor Hawk­ing does­n’t accept,there’s a God to do so.Then he process his Theory,how Par­ti­cle (Element)was ‘nurs­ing’ (I think so).My thought:If Black Hole is not kind of con­nec­tion to oth­er Universes,then it is where Uni­verse star,one new born to replay the oth­er that had been going far,out of reach from where it was produced,Black Hole.

  • OpeX says:

    Avoid the obnox­ious Adobe Flash once and for all. Instead, just use HTML 5.

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