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Research by scientists at the University of York has revealed new insights into the life and death of black holes. Their findings dispel the so-called firewall paradox which shocked the physics community when it was announced in 2012 since its predictions about large black holes contradicted Einstein's crowning achievement -- the theory of general relativity. Those results suggested that anyone falling into a black hole would be burned up as they crossed its edge -- the so-called event horizon.

Now Professor Sam Braunstein and Dr Stefano Pirandola have extinguished the fire. In a paper published in Physical Review Letters, they invoke quantum information theory, a modern branch of quantum mechanics that treats light and atoms as carriers of information. The key insight from quantum mechanics is the existence of `spooky’ quantum entanglement across a black hole’s event horizon.

Professor Braunstein says: “Quantum mechanics shows that entanglement can exist across the event horizon, between particles inside and outside the black hole. But should this entanglement ever vanish, a barrier of energetic particles would be created: an energetic curtain (or firewall) would descend around the horizon of the black hole.

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Category: Science