They would help to achieve a unifying theory between general relativity and quantum mechanics, capable of explaining the nature of the Universe at all its scales and levels.
The Universe is revealing to us that it is always more strange, mysterious and fascinating than most of us could have imagined: a new study has discovered that black holes, affected by the phenomenon of quantum superposition, can have very different masses at the same time. time: extrapolating this idea to a person, it would mean that they can be tall and short or wide and thin at the same time. This situation, so confusing to our understanding, anchored in traditional physics, could be the reality of quantum black holes.
Research by a team of theoretical physicists led by the University of Queensland in Australia has confirmed the strange quantum properties that black holes exhibit under certain conditions, including their spooky ability to have different masses simultaneously.
The group of scientists, led by Joshua Foo, performed calculations that reveal surprising quantum phenomena linked to black holes. According to a press release, although we know that black holes are perhaps the most intriguing cosmic objects in the Universe, whether they exhibit some of the weird and wonderful behaviors of quantum physics has yet to be fully explored.
Different masses at the same time?
A black hole forms when gravity squeezes a large amount of incredibly dense matter into a tiny space, developing a gravitational pull so strong that not even light can escape from that point in the cosmos. However, it is assumed that in this context so different from the reality that we know, the properties of matter follow, at least roughly, logical patterns according to our vision, such as that an object cannot have two different masses at the same time. weather.
However, the Australian scientists, who recently published the new study in the journal Physical Review Letters, believe they have shown exactly the opposite: affected by the phenomenon of quantum superposition, black holes can have very different masses at the same time, breaking up with all the schemes that our brains can come to understand.
In other words, this would mean that if the same property were applied to any object or structure present in our reality, that object could be tall and short at the same time or, perhaps, thin and wide at the same time. Quantum superposition is a state in which particles, on a quantum scale, can exist in multiple states at the same time. However, until now this complex idea seemed to be the exclusive patrimony of quantum phenomena, until now circumscribed, at least in the collective imagination, to laboratory experiments.
A possible path towards the sought after “theory of everything”?
The researchers also verified that black holes can only have masses that maintain certain values, that is, they must be within certain bands or proportions, in the same way that the energy levels of an atom work, for example. This condition had been predicted by several of the “pioneers” of quantum physics, such as the physicist Jacob Bekenstein. The mathematical model developed in the new study shows that the superimposed masses in black holes are, in fact, in certain bands or certain ratios.
If this theory is confirmed, a greater understanding of the quantum nature of black holes could show us how two apparently opposing scientific conceptions, such as quantum mechanics and the general theory of relativity, can be reconciled and even unified. Both perfectly explain, respectively, the subatomic world and the visible Universe, but they cannot work together.
New insights into quantum black holes should at least bring them close enough to produce a grand new theory of how the Universe works at all scales, from large cosmic structures to subatomic particles. The so-called quantum gravity, a field of theoretical physics that precisely seeks to unify quantum theory with general relativity, would be the key that would open the door to a new great scientific revolution.
Quantum Signatures of Black Hole Mass Superpositions. Joshua Foo, Cemile Senem Arabaci, Magdalena Zych and Robert B. Mann. Physical Review Letters (2022). DOI:https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevLett.129.181301