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The Event Horizon Telescope’s spectacular success in taking pictures of the black hole in the galaxy M87 becomes even more exciting when one realizes its observations may possibly provide clues about one of the deepest puzzles in physics. 

This is the “paradox” of black hole information, which points to a basic inconsistency between the existence of black holes and the quantum-mechanical laws believed to describe our universe. Resolving this inconsistency may require a conceptual revolution as profound as the overthrow of classical physics by quantum mechanics. 

Black holes are apparently ubiquitous in the cosmos, and yet remain the most mysterious objects it contains; their very existence threatens our present foundations of physics. Observations like EHT’s, and the recent gravitational wave detections of LIGO, are providing increasingly good evidence for their existence. But, while the basic principles of quantum mechanics are thought to govern all the other laws of nature, when they are applied to black holes they lead to a contradiction, exposing a basic flaw the current form of these laws. So, the most profound role of black holes may be in teaching us something new and deep about the fundamental laws of nature.

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Category: Science