What Happens to Matter Inside a Black Hole?

Blog, Eugene Toth, Math, Science and Technology

by Eugene Toth
October 2, 2016Black Hole.jpghttp://www.universetoday.com/33454/how-do-black-holes-form/

A galaxy swirls around a black hole

At the center of our galaxy, gasses, stars, and nebulae swirl around a supermassive black hole, Sagittarius A.1   

Stephen Hawking explained the proportion of matter in a black hole to the matter we know.

“…the black hole would have the mass of  a mountain compressed into less than a million millionth of an inch, the size of the nucleus of an atom!” 2

For the Earth to make a black hole, it would have to be squeezed to the size of a cranberry.

In A Brief History of Time, by Stephen Hawking (New York, Bantam Books 1988) and The Black Hole War by Leonard Susskind (New York:  Hachette, 2008), two famous physicists present differing theories of what happens to matter inside a black hole.  They consider what happens to matter sucked into a black hole.  Does it disappear?

No one disputes that black holes absorb matter.   Matter is anything that has a volume and mass.  Everything we see is matter.   Matter takes five forms – plasma, gas, liquid, solid, and Bose-Einstein condensate, the coldest form of matter. 

We see light.  Light travels in waves.  Light is also matter.   Photons are packets of light that travel in waves. 

Black objects absorb light.    The capacity to absorb light produces blackness.   We can only see a black object if some photons reflect off the object.   

Nothing can escape the horizon of a black hole.   In contrast to other black objects, black holes absorb all photons.   That no light comes out of the horizon, makes the area inside the horizon black.  In space we see a huge gaping hole.  We can see only the horizon of a black hole.  Nothing inside a black hole can ever communicate with anything outside of it.  Of what is inside a black hole, physicists can only theorize.


At the center of the horizon lies the              singularity of a black hole.    http://www.wall.org/~aron/horizon.htm

Evaporation and obliteration theory

Cambridge’s professor Stephen Hawking theorized that a black hole destroys all matter that passes the horizon.  Hawking said:

“When a black hole evaporates, the trapped bits of information disappear from our universe.  Information isn’t scrambled. It is irreversibly, and eternally, obliterated.”4

Theoretical physicists Stephen Hawking and Bill Unruh proved that black holes, just like any other pieces of matter, have a temperature.  If black holes have a temperature, then black holes radiate heat.   Hawking and Unruh called it “black body radiation.”  Hawking and Unruh reasoned that if black holes have a temperature, then black holes eventually evaporate. 

A black hole emits “Hawking radiation.”  At the surface of the event horizon a black hole creates antiparticles.  An antiparticle is counterpart of a particle.  The antiparticle of a quark an antiquark.  When a quark and an antiquark combine, they create a hadron.  The antiparticle counterpart of small particles make up the antiparticle counterparts of large particles.  For example, a neutron is made up of quarks.   Antiquarks make up antineutrons.  The destruction of a particle leaves a neutral particle and an antiparticle.  For example, the destruction of a proton leaves a neutron and a positron.

Antiparticles can also make up “anti-elements”.  For example, a positron, the opposite of an electron, and a proton make up the anti-hydrogen atom.  The anti-hydrogen atom has the same properties as a normal hydrogen atom.5

Hawking radiation consists of particles, like light.  Unlike light, however, Hawking radiation can escape a black hole.  So how does Hawking radiation escape a black hole?      At the event horizon, virtual pairs of particles separate.

Virtual pairs of particles comprise a particle and its antiparticle.  At the event horizon, one-half of a virtual pair of particles is inside the event horizon, while the other half is outside the event horizon.  The particle inside the horizon will be lost to the particle on the outside of the event horizon.  On the inside of the horizon, the singularity sucks in half of the virtual pair.   The half on the outside of the horizon escapes the black hole’s pull.  This decreases the mass of the black hole, causing the black hole to “evaporate”.6


“Soft hairs” form a halo around a black hole.                          http://phys.org/news/2016-06-hawking-team-soft-hair-theory.html

As a black hole evaporates, it grows hotter and smaller.  After a black hole reaches high temperatures, the black hole begins to release particles of high energy.  As the black hole gradually grows hotter and smaller, it continues to evaporate.  It grows smaller.  As it grows smaller, it grows hotter.   Physicists know almost nothing about black holes once black holes reach their last burst of evaporation. 

The Hawking theory that black holes evaporate contradicts Antoine Lavoisier’s Law of the Conservation of Mass.   In 1785, Lavoisier, in his Law of the Conservation of Mass, stated that matter cannot be created or destroyed.  

Lavoisier conducted many experiments, in closed vessels, in which the weight remained constant, within experimental error.  He produced reactions of tin or lead with oxygen.  He analyzed mercury calx (HgO).  With large burning lenses he focused the sun’s rays to reach high temperatures to produce chemical reactions.  With a large lens Lavoisier burned a diamond and show that it produced only CO2.

Black holes differ from other objects in space.  Black holes have an extremely strong gravitational pull.  Nevertheless, black holes should not contradict the Law of the Conservation of Mass.

Pocket universe theory

Particle physicist Leonard Susskind teaches at Stanford.  He considered but rejects a theory that inside the black hole, a piece of space breaks off and forms a universe, isolated from our perception of spacetime. 

One of the most trusted principles of physics states that information is never lost. 7    According to the pocket universe theory, information that falls into a black hole goes into a baby universe. According to the pocket universe theory, a black hole does not obliterate information.   A black hole stores the information in the pocket universe.    This theory solves the problem with Hawking’s theory, that information cannot be created or destroyed.  If a black hole evaporated, then the information in the pocket universe would become completely unobservable. 

The pocket universe theory fails because it requires a change of energy.   To create a pocket universe would require a change of energy.   A quantum fluctuation is a temporary change in the amount of energy in a point in space.   Physicists Leonard Susskind, Thomas Banks, and Michael Peskin all agree that quantum fluctuations would transform into thermal fluctuations, changes in thermal energy.  Thermal fluctuations would almost instantaneously heat the universe to impossibly high temperatures. 


The pocket universe theory suffers a second problem.  The only way information could enter a pocket universe would be through a wormhole.  A wormhole is a theoretical passageway through space.  For example, the Einstein-Rosen Bridge is a passageway from one universe to the other through a singularity.   The singularity acts as a wormhole. John Archibald Wheeler, of John Hopkins University showed, by mathematics, that wormholes would open and closein so a short amount of time that nothing could pass through.   Susskind cites Wheeler’s wormhole as evidence that wormholes creating miniature universes would not be possible.

Information Vault Theory

Some speculate that black holes stop evaporating once they reach the Planck Mass.   The Planck mass is the combined mass of the number of particles in a Planck unit.  A Planck unit is the maximum allowed mass to contain one elementary charge.   The Planck mass is about 0.0217651 milligrams.   Physicists believe that once a black hole reaches this size, it stops evaporating.  It becomes an infinitely small information vault, containing all the information it absorbed.  This theory conforms to the Law of Conservation of Matter more than Hawking’s theory.  By the information vault theory, information is not destroyed. 

Susskind disagrees with the information vault theory.  He states that a particle containing potentially infinite amounts of information would have infinite entropy. The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that entropy constantly increases.   Entropy is decay into disorder.  Water eroding a rock creates entropy.  An ice cube melting causes entropy.  Susskind defines entropy as:

“Entropy is a measure of the number of arrangements that conform to some specific recognizable criterion.”8

 According to the First Law of Thermodynamics, heat balances itself, by flowing into cold objects.  Heat raises the temperature of cold objects and lowers the temperature of hot objects until a system has a uniform temperature.  Infinitely entropic particles would cause a thermodynamic disaster. The infinite entropy caused by the information vaults would burn up the universe.

The bathtub option


                 Entropy                  http://www.michelecoscia.com/?p=1041

Susskind compares a black hole to a bathtub.  Susskind analogizes matter entering a black hole to drops of ink spilling into a bathtub of water.   Before an ink drop falls into the water, the ink drops are sharply defined.  One can easily differentiate between the ink and the water.  As the ink falls into the water, the ink drops dissolves.  The difference between ink and water blurs.  The water becomes cloudy.  Soon all that remains is a uniform tub of slightly gray water. 

If the inky water evaporates, the molecules of ink and water continue to exist.  They enter the air.  They scatter and separate from each other.  Susskind’s “bathtub option” edits Stephen Hawking’s theory to conform to the Law of Conservation of Matter. 


Both Hawking and Susskind believe that, at the center of a black hole, the singularity, along with all the other matter inside the black hole, eventually evaporates.   Hawking theorized that a black hole destroys and obliterates all matter which enters the horizon.   Susskind’s bathtub option predicts that the matter is scattered.  


         1. Henderson, Mark “Astronomers confirm black hole at the heart of the Milky ‘Way'” London: Times Online. (December 9, 2008) (Accessed 10/2/2016).  “…[L]urking at the center of our galaxy is a supersized black hole with a Schwarzschild radius of about 100 million miles – about the size of the Earth’s orbit around the Sun.”  Susskind, Leonard The Black Hole War, My Battle with Stephen Hawking to make the World Safe for Quantum Mechanics (New York: Hachette Book Group, 2008) p.32.

         2.  Hawking, Stephen A Brief History of Time (New York: Bantam Books, 1998). p 112

         3.   Susskind, Leonard The Black Hole War, My Battle with Stephen Hawking to make the World Safe for Quantum Mechanics, supra, p.32   

         4.  Susskind, Leonard, The Black Hole War, My Battle with Stephen Hawking to make the World Safe for Quantum Mechanics, supra, p. 185

         5.  Wikipedia, “Antiparticle,” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antiparticle

         6. Strassler, Matt “Virtual Particles, What are they?” https://profmattstrassler.com/articles-and-posts/particle-physics-basics/virtual-particles-what-are-they/

         7.  Susskind, Leonard, The Black Hole Warsupra, p. 179 “Smaller than an atom, smaller than a quark, smaller even than a neutrino, the single bit may be the most fundamental building block.  Without any structure, the bit is just there, or not there. John Wheeler believed that all material objects are composed of bits of information.” The Black Hole War, supra, p.136

         8.  Susskind, Leonard, The Black Hole War, supra, p. 131


            Cain, Fraser, “How Do Black Holes Form?”  Universe Today http://www.universetoday.com/33454/how-do-black-holes-form/ (Dec. 23, 2015) (Accessed 10/2/16)

           Hawking, Stephen, A Brief History of Time (New York: Bantam Books, 1998).

           Henderson, Mark “Astronomers confirm black hole at the heart of the Milky ‘Way.'” London: Times Online. (December 9, 2008) (Accessed 10/2/2016)

            Strassler, Matt, “Virtual Particles, What are they?” https://profmattstrassler.com/articles-and-posts/particle-physics-basics/virtual-particles-what-are-they/.

           Susskind, Leonard, The Black Hole War, My Battle with Stephen Hawking to make the World Safe for Quantum Mechanics ( New York:  Hachette Book Group, 2008).

            Wikipedia, “Antiparticle,” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antiparticle. (Accessed 10/2/2016).

            Yirka, Bob, “Hawking team updates soft hair theory to help solve black hole information paradox.” http://phys.org/news/2016-06-hawking-team-soft-hair-theory.html#jCpf. June 9. 2016 (Accessed 10/2/2016)

Are We Who We Think We Are?

Authors, Blog, Omar Abdelhamid, Philosophy, Science and Technology, Society


My name is Omar Abdelhamid. But is that really who I am?  Is Omar, the Omar that speaks to others and shares opinions and ideas the whole of my being? Or is Omar just one of the many functions of my human self? And does this self, this communicative, social self, really physically exist?

How Life is like Coding

Authors, Omar Abdelhamid, Science and Technology

How Life is Like Coding

by Omar Abdelhamid

Coding is a science. But in coding, there’s more that you learn than the rules and the commands and the format and the different aspects of every language. While learning coding, there are important life lessons that are learned as well.

1) In coding, there are tons of lines of code to write. Lines are measured in the millions, and they are essential to the foundation of what you are coding. In life, there are some phases and hardships that are tedious that everyone has to go through, and they are essential to the foundation of yourself. If you get past them, you could find success.

2) Sometimes its best to take shortcuts.

Luckily for programmers, there are many coding shortcuts that make it much easier for them to write code. There are pre-made commands and shortcuts that accomplish things that would be much harder without them. In life, we are sometimes given advantages like technology that make it much easier for us to accomplish otherwise difficult things. In both cases, these help us skip tedious parts and get to working on the more substantial parts of projects, and thus create more and more amazing things more quickly and efficiently.

3) Be Creative.

Sometimes there isn’t a command for something, and you need to use your creativity to work out a way to solve a problem or reach a desired result if there isn’t an already established way to do something. Sometimes you can’t find open source code for something, and you have to find out a way to make it work. Similarly, in life, we don’t always learn the solution to our our problems, and we need to think with an open and creative mind in order to solve them.

4) Mistakes aren’t always clear.

In coding, you could have finished a long block of code, but when you run it, it doesn’t execute the way you wanted it to. You think it should be easy to fix the problem, but one big roadblock is in the way: you don’t know what you did wrong. You have to search through your code and test every segment separately sometimes to know what you did wrong before you even think about fixing it. In life, we don’t always know what went wrong when we are faced with an undesirable result. We have to experiment and make mistakes and learn from them so that we could find the best combination of conditions and find success.

Coding is said to be the language of the future. How suiting too, since it serves a double purpose as the basic building block of technology and an important teacher of how to success in life.

Free Will, Life, and the Damned Future

Alwin Peng, Authors, Blog, Philosophy, Science and Technology

By Alwin Peng

Let’s start out by addressing an important question: What is free will?

Well, kind seeker of answers, free will is the idea that living things have the CHOICE of what they are going to do. Judaism sees free will as something that naturally goes with the naturally
belonging human soul. For example, free will was present in the Old Testament, where Adam and Eve chose themselves to defy their omnipotent lord.

Well then giver of answers, what the heck does response have anything to do with the title?

My friend… I am just getting to that. Life, in a scientific sense, was created when random particles (namely hydrocarbons, but that science gunk really bores people so let’s not talk about it) reacted with each other. Over billions of years, these mindless reactions happened, until one day, a being was created that can reproduce. Mr. Charles Darwin will take over from here.


“You see, my good inquisitor, that evolution happened. That being slowly mutated as it moved into different environments. Stronger mutations would be able to reproduce, and this passed down the genes
that helped it survive. Gradually, these beings evolved until they became as complicated as we are.”

Okay Mr. Darwin, you may step down now. So one may see life as the free will of the universe, and based on whether you are an atheist or not, you may draw different conclusions.

So, giver of answers, you told me why the title had the words Free Will and Life, but what is with “The Damned Future”. That’s rather depressing.

So here goes… but this could be a bit more depressing… Remember when I talked about random
reactions that created life? Well let’s zoom in a bit further. When you break down the situation to its simplest form, it is basically atoms moving at velocities at certain positions, their courses predetermined.

So you’re saying that life was predetermined?

In essence, yes. Now let’s go all the way back in time, to the moment the big bang happened. Each atom had a certain position and velocity as the universe expanded. From that point forward, you can calculate what will happen to that individual atom as it reacts with others. In a nutshell, if I had a computer that knew the position and velocity of every atom, I would be able to predict the future correctly, as the interactions of the atoms is the future.

Then why the heck don’t we predict the future?

Well… we can’t. It is impossible to know the position and velocity of any object at the same time: in the process of measuring, both values are changed. Due to quantum mechanics, an object stays
in superposition of both existence and a lack of existence before it is measured, making predicting the future impossible. However, the future is indeed set in stone, but we cannot predict it. Free will does not exist. All your thoughts are due to movements of particles in your brain, sending electrical signals
throughout the body.

You’re still not answering my first question about the depressing title.

The future may not be damned in an apocalyptic sense. But we cannot choose our own future. That, is why I see this future is damned.

The Achievements of the Han Dynasty

Authors, Blog, Drew Morris, Miscellaneous, Science and Technology, Society, Uncategorized

The Han dynasty lasted from 206 BC-220 AD and had many amazing achievements that changed the world for all and benefits our society in many ways. The Han dynasty had many achievements in science, and one of them was the seismograph. The Seismograph was an impressive instrument because it detected earthquakes from hundreds of miles away. Another scientific achievement was that they learned how to predict when the sun was going to have an eclipse. This discovery helped people because they were always ready when an eclipse came.  In medicine, doctors found new kinds of medications. This helped doctors treat more diseases and patients who were ill. Han craft workers also made an amazing invention when they learned how to create paper. They created paper by pounding the bark of Mulberry trees.  The invention of paper had a huge effect on the way people lived. Paper made it easier to record what was happening. With paper, students invented the first Chinese dictionary. Another idea that came up under the rule of emperor Wudi was Grand School. Grand School were schools that were created to help students get jobs in the local government. Grand School was the empire’s best school. They were set up in every province or state in the empire. Without Grand School and the Confucian emphasis on education, their society might not have had innovators to create these inventions. Overall, thanks to the Han dynasty’s hard work and achievements, society obtained tools and scientific advancements that benefit us to this day.

Anthropology, Placebos, and Magic Voodoo Doctors

Authors, Blog, Omar Abdelhamid, Science and Technology, Society, Uncategorized

When the anthropology students of Horace Miner harshly judged and mocked the cultures of the people they studied and read about, Miner showed his students the humanity of these cultures and put them in a better light in a very clever way. He wrote an article  about the Nacirema, a Tribe with very strange customs and traditions, such as a mouth-rite ritual done by sticking horse hairs in the mouth. How strange indeed. A culture with medicine men and women and a charm-box in the washing room.