I saw recently that Steven Hawking has written a new paper in which he seeks to refine our understanding of how black holes work. At first, I was not that interested. Ok, this might be important for geeky physicists. But what does it have to do with me?
On a day to day basis, the answer is “not much”. But in terms of defining the era in which we live, it means quite a bit. This video explains the problem. We have two theories of how the universe works – general relativity explains how stuff works on a macro (really, really big) level and quantum mechanics explains how stuff works on a micro (really, really small level). It is never great to have two different models that offer different ways to understand a single thing. But it gets worse – we do not yet know how to reconcile these two models. We are stuck.
I find that to be fascinating. It suggests that a better explanation for how the universe works is out there, and just beyond our grasp. Will we find it? The odds are that with enough time and focus that we will. When? Now that is a good question.
Whatever Hawking has come up with, this is a pretty fascinating story.