Journal Article

The hawking information loss paradox: the anatomy of controversy

G Belot, J Earman and L Ruetsche

in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

Published on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science

Volume 50, issue 2, pages 189-229
Published in print June 1999 | ISSN: 0007-0882
Published online June 1999 | e-ISSN: 1464-3537 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjps/50.2.189
The hawking information loss paradox: the anatomy of controversy

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Stephen Hawking has argued that universes containing evaporating black holes can evolve from pure initial states to mixed final ones. Such evolution is non-unitary and so contravenes fundamental quantum principles on which Hawking's analysis was based. It disables the retrodiction of the universe's initial state from its final one, and portends the time-asymmetry of quantum gravity. Small wonder that Hawking's paradox has met with considerable resistance. Here we use a simple result for C*-algebras to offer an argument for pure-to-mixed state evolution in black hole evaporation, and review responses to the Hawking paradox with respect to how effectively they rebut this argument.

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Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Science and Mathematics

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