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Physicist Hawking says there's a way out of a black hole

In a speech in Stockholm, renowned scientist Stephen Hawking says black holes "are not the eternal prisons they were once thought." That's the easy version of his musings on the topic.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.

Black holes ain't quite so black. KTH Royal Institute of Technology/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

It used to be thought, by scientists at least, that once something disappeared into a black hole, that was it. Stephen Hawking, though, has other ideas.

In a lecture at Stockholm's KTH Royal Institute of Technology, the physicist mused that disappearing into black holes may not represent permanent disappearance.

It's often thought that black holes are huge areas in space that have such great gravitational suction that nothing can emerge from them.

However, Hawking offered: "If you feel you are in a black hole, don't give up. There's a way out."

In essence, he believes that information that seems to disappear into a black hole may still have a life.

His idea is that the information doesn't, in fact, disappear into the hole at all. Instead: "I propose that the information is stored not in the interior of the black hole, as one might expect, but on its boundary: the event horizon."

The laws of quantum mechanics say that of course the information should be able to get out at some point and in some way.

However, Hawking imagines the information is actually turned into a sort of hologram that adorns the event horizon -- the boundary of the black hole.

Personally, I'm a little confused. Last year, Hawking declared that black holes don't exist at all. I'm not sure that his new depiction is going to be clear for everyone.

For example, Sabine Hossenfelder of the Nordic Institute for Theoretical Physics in Stockholm told the New Scientist: "He is saying that the information is there twice already from the very beginning, so it's never destroyed in the black hole to begin with. At least that's what I understood."

When physics is theoretical, everyone has a theory -- even about what someone else has said.

Hawking summed up his thoughts like this: "The message of this lecture is that black holes ain't as black as they are painted. They are not the eternal prisons they were once thought. Things can get out of a black hole both on the outside and possibly come out in another universe."

In essence we, like all particles, might live to fight another day.