Why Black Holes Could Delete The Universe – The Information Paradox


Why Black Holes Could Delete The Universe – The Information Paradox

Black holes are the most powerful things in the universe, strong enough to rip whole stars into atom sized pieces Well, this is scary enough. They have an even more powerful and dark property: they might delete the universe itself. Black holes in a nutshell A black hole appears when an extraordinary amount of matter is concentrated in a tiny space. At their center, gravity is almost infinitely strong and whatever gets too close is ripped into its elementary particles. Not even light can escape black holes, and so we perceive them as spheres of blackness. If you were to fall into a black hole, nothing bad would happen until well after you crossed its outer border: the event horizon. You can imagine this as swimming in a river that ends in an enormous waterfall. As you float along, imperceptibly, the stream gets faster and faster, even if you can’t see the waterfall yet. You could swim to safety, until without even noticing it, you cross the point of no return. No matter how fast you try to swim now, the stream will pull you towards certain death. Nothing can escape a black hole waterfall once it gets too close. This border completely separates black holes from the rest of the universe: we can’t access them unless we’re willing to never return. So there’s no way of telling what’s really going on inside black holes, but we have a few ideas about what’s going on right at their very edges. Black holes radiate their mass away, like a hot pot on a stove losing its water as steam. This is called Hawking radiation. Black holes constantly lose an extremely tiny amount of their mass, a process that’s unbelievably slow. It will take a black hole with a mass of our sun 10,000 billion billion billion billion billion billion years to lose 0.0000001% of its mass. This is happening constantly and unstoppably, and as it goes on it speeds up more and more. In the far far future when the last star in the universe has been dead for trillions of years, black holes will become tinier and tinier until they evaporate and disappear, leaving behind just a bit of radiation. But this is a problem, because in the process of disappearing black holes might delete something fundamental: information. 2 – What is information? Information is nothing tangible. It’s typically understood as a property of the arrangement of particles. What does this mean? Imagine a bunch of carbon atoms. Arrange them in a certain way and you get coal. Arrange them in a different way, and you get a diamond. The atoms are the same, what changes is the information. If we make this more complex and add in a few more atoms, we get a banana. Change the arrangement of the atoms, and we get a squirrel. The basic building blocks of everything in the universe are the same, and don’t care if they’re part of a bird or a rock or a cup of coffee. Without information everything in the universe would be the same. According to the theory of quantum mechanics information is indestructible. It might change shape, but it can never be lost: for example if you burn a piece of paper, you get ash. That ash will never become paper again. But, if you were able to carefully collect every single carbon atom in the ash, and measured the exact properties of the smoke and heat radiating from the fire, you could, in theory reconstruct the paper. The information of the paper is still in the universe. It’s not lost, it’s just hard to read. If you could somehow measure every single atom and particle and wave of radiation in the universe, you could see and track every bit of information there is. Hypothetically, you could see the entire history of the universe right back to the Big Bang. And here black holes trip us up. Information tells us how things are different from each other and what used to be what. Black holes do the opposite: they take different things and make them the same. They destroy information. This creates the information paradox, and this is a serious problem. The information paradox It’s fundamental for all our laws of physics that information can never be lost. Existing, not existing. Without information, everything is relative. When it comes to our understanding of reality, we need absolutes. How could we solve this paradox? There are a few possibilities. 1) Information is lost. Irretrievably and forever. This means we have to nix all our laws of physics, throwing out a lot of stuff that’s worked very well so far and to start from scratch What those new laws of physics would look like, or what that means for us, nobody knows. This is a little frightening, but also kind of exciting. 2) Information is hidden. Maybe a little part of the black hole splits off and forms a baby universe. The information would be transferred into this new weird place, where we could never observe or interact with it, but technically it would not be lost. It’s like having a broken hard drive with all your family photos, that you could never access. Sure, it’s nice that they’ve not been deleted, but also not very helpful. Or maybe black holes don’t disappear completely after the end of their life cycles, but a little piece is left, an information diamond. like a clown car filled with an infinite amount of information clowns. But there’s a third option: Information is safe after all, not lost or hidden. Perhaps we’ve just been looking at this whole thing the wrong way. We know that black holes trap information and might delete it later, but we never thought about what they do with it in the meantime. Where do black holes store their information? Cosmic housekeeping Let’s create a black hole with dirty laundry. First, we fill up a room with laundry baskets: the more laundry you want to store, the more baskets you put in the room. But at some point every single basket is full, and the room is completely stacked, not a single extra sock fits in. The room is at maximum capacity. But if we still squeeze the sock in with a lot of energy and violence, the room collapses in on itself and forms a black hole. But the capacity of the room itself has not changed, fitting in more stuff or information is still impossible. So what happens if we throw more laundry into it? The room itself gets a little bit bigger to make space for the new information. It turns out a black hole grows its surface by a tiny pixel for each bit of information we throw into it. In a nutshell, more information means more surface area. The information gets painted on the surface, similar to what happens when we throw a stone into a pond. After the stone sinks to the bottom we can’t see it anymore, but we can tell that something went in from the ripples on the surface of the pond. Even the smallest black hole can store more information on its surface than all the data ever produced in human history. They do this by storing information in a type of pixel that is unbelievably tiny. Black holes are the ultimate hard drive. This is a bit like taking a paper back, and turning it into an e-book, two things that look completely different. But their content is the same — it’s just encoded and memorized in another way. Black holes swallowing stars and planets is a bit like transferring a whole library onto an e-reader. This solution is called the holographic principle, but if it’s correct then everything we thought we knew about the universe is wrong. The universe is a hologram If information is actually stored on the boundary of a black hole, the Hawking radiation has a chance of learning about the information encoded there, and can carry it away. So, information is not lost when black holes fade away, and we do not need to redo physics: the information paradox is resolved. But we still have to change our understanding of reality in a fundamental way. If everything that falls into the black hole is stored on its event horizon, that basically means that three-dimensional stuff is encoded on a flat surface. We have a name for this: a hologram. A hologram is like a 3D photo, a flat piece of plastic that encodes a three-dimensional image. A black hole is like a hologram, because everything inside it is encoded on its event horizon. A person inside a black hole will experience their usual three-dimensional life. but for us on the outside they are flattened images on the surface of the black hole. The consequence of this is counterintuitive, but stay with us for a moment. Black holes are very extreme objects, but they’re still bound to the same rules as everything else. So if this crazy duality between 2D and 3D works for black holes, then it might work for the whole universe, and you in it. Since a person inside a black hole would not realize that they’re encoded on a flat surface, we might share the same fate: you really might be stretched over a flat screen at the end of the universe. The science behind this is complicated and really weird, with toy universes to play with, string theory and a lot of maths. We’ll talk about this more in another video. Regardless of what the true nature of the universe really is, we just know that it’s strange and complicated, and we have to do a lot more physics to understand it. But black holes might be key to understanding the nature of reality itself. This video was supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation, and realized with the scientific advice of Alessandro Sfondrini.

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100 thoughts on “Why Black Holes Could Delete The Universe – The Information Paradox”

  1. Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell says:

    There's brand new stuff in the Kurzgesagt Merch Shop. Check it out here:

  2. Jian Del rosario says:

    Did you guys saw patrick at 1:05?

  3. First Last says:

    Its gotta be 2 or 3 black holes have had to suck up some cosmos by now but they still exist. In some weird way this is kind of saying you are the center of the universe. If you haven't been bothered or distorted from an outside force, your information and existence are truly unique and your own

  4. Leandro Victor Gamboa Chua says:

    What how are black holes the most powerful?
    I thought it’s pasta?

  5. Lillie Wonka says:

    I am watching this on my ipad and feel alarmingly close to little me’s idea of what interacting with The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy would be like.💕

  6. kakashi _69 says:

    No need to worry in future we will be able to throw black holes at each other 😀

    We live in a society

  7. Pokemon For the Win says:

    Black Holes 🕳 are the killing machine of the universe, that will kill themselves eventually

  8. RonBest says:

    I dont get it, how is the information lost when it goes inside the event horizon? I get the actual physical object is lost forever, but the information of it it's still out there in the form of light it gave away during it's lifetime before getting devoured by the black hole. Meaning an observer can see that light and extract information from the object even though it's physical form is gone. And it should be far more simple than trying to translate "pixels" on the actual event horizon on a black hole.

  9. xd says:

    Imagine all humans die but humans have simulations running at black hole mirrrors. Simulating universes to find a solution to review humans again. 😮

  10. Gabriel morais says:

    okay this was the biggest existencial crisis you could do

  11. sam_ everlast says:

    "Felt cute might delete later"

  12. Waterproof Waterbottle says:

    Eyyy, i see what u did there, some 3D thingies

  13. djgreen88 says:

    So if our universe is a hologram in something like a black hole, it would have to be one big enough to contain the entire observable universe and it exists in a universe where such enormous black holes (or similar) can exist. And to clarify I do not mean the radius of the black hole would not be the size of the observable universe, simply that a black hole made of everything in the observable universe is larger than is possible, at least according to other youtube videos of similar channels and topics

  14. Jvasnn says:

    I don’t know if the video repeated when I watched it

  15. some boi says:

    Finally I can store my porn pictures somewhere. Damn my pc doesn't have enough space anymore

  16. 1337 Cubing says:

    What if every black hole was another universe and everything that gets sucked in is building a new universe?

  17. Jägerbi Corps says:

    Friend: What hard drive do you use
    Me: oh I use a black hole

  18. Lucifer Darknemesis says:

    4:47 Only a Sith deals in absolutes..

  19. mikumikumiku says:

    Watched PBS spacetime on the same topic and understood half of it. But this video made me understand the holographic principal further. I don't know it's because if the animation, or the narrative. Great job! Anyway guys, just keep watching both. Multiple perspectives helps in learning.

  20. Champ says:

    If Black Holes rip apart masses into their atomic size, what if we could shrink? then we could go into 1…..

  21. Thezmas says:

    Why do i watch these they only give me anexiety lmao

  22. lifeforce says:

    A black hole disapear after 14 billions years according hawkins so I dont know from where they got these numbers

  23. Cecilia Del Rosario says:

    a black hole is like killing two birds with one stone

  24. Mr.X says:

    1:05 is that Patrick?

  25. DumbWeeb says:

    But mom I want to go in a black hole!

  26. Adi Stamen says:

    Information is stored in the balls

  27. Maloy7800 says:

    Extreme oversimplification helps scientists get A LOT of money for their research. Hey, black holes might be keys to understanding reality. Now just give me ten more billion dollars for my new hadrone collider and I'll tell you what the secret of reality is. Read you will be the most powerful man in the world. And because money is run by idiots, IT WORKS EVERY TIME!!!

  28. Casey Watson says:

    What's funny is anyone can make up anything and put it on you tube and most people believe it.

  29. A very strange ghostly squid says:

    “close to infinitely” uhhh

  30. Erin Hackett says:

    If the universe is a hologram, than does that mean that my life is a lie?

  31. Ismir Wenzel says:

    How do those particles escape black holes, if nothing can escape from them?

  32. TechnoWizard says:

    "Maths"? Define what a single "math" is please

  33. •Đüāł Ęđītš• says:


    Read more

  34. Animal King says:

    6 years of collage.

    1 episode of Kurzgesagt- In a Nutshell

  35. Izanaki Izanaki says:

    1:04 patrick is that you?

  36. juap! says:

    Neh, i think that information its tottaly lost except for the subparticles that compose bosons and fermions.

  37. Super Nova says:

    Honestly, every time I watch these videos, the part that stumps me the most, is at the beginning. Birds hatch from eggs… Not live born…

  38. AASonic says:

    Black holes: not on my watch

  39. Mimi Summer says:

    advanced technology that we dont have yet cound use black holes as the bin program in computers.

  40. Anbubu ‘ says:

    what happens if you input a 3d object? will it output a 4d object?

  41. Geoffrey S Tuttle says:

    Speaking of recreating physics! I Think 'L. Ron Hawking' has come up with another fantasy as silly as Scientology. There is no absolute data proving black holes exist and certainly none proving anything about "Hawking radiation". It's all a math fantasy. Sham-a-lamma-ding-dong.

  42. TMAS says:

    I heard that hawking radiation is false.

  43. Karem Assar says:

    to destroy a black hole Steal its energy

  44. John H says:

    If everything gets stretched space, time and our reality at the point of going into a black hole and we don’t even notice it, wouldn’t we end up at the new spot looking at a new reality.
    Only problem is this radiation coming out. Something is lost from crossing over to the new reality. Meaning we are now a partial in the new place.

  45. Lemonkiwix says:

    So if were in a black hole can a black hole be in it with us too?

  46. Kyz X says:

    “It’s will take 10,000 billion billion billion billion billion billion years to lose 0.0000001% of its mass”

    Me 10,000 billion billion billion billion billion billion years later :
    Haha take this black hole 😎

  47. Risotto Nero says:

    Maybe the Black Hole is like an hologram, a 4D representation into a 3D universe, once you put more mass into it, hey collapse over themselves and, maybe then, they become a 4 dimentional shape, just we can't see it

  48. UltraGaming says:

    black hole; im bored sees earth and food black hole; OK YEAH IM EATING ALL OF THIS when he eats all of it black hole; huh i guess im just gonna whait thousends of years for earth to come back.

  49. Der JohnPolp12 says:

    i thought only enrico pucci would do that but okay

  50. Mercxry says:


  51. Michael Hunsinger says:

    what if the universe is a black hole? there could be a larger universe out there inside another black hole repeating, forever.

  52. James Vancamp says:

    If I might pick anyone's brain for a moment, spark discussion and whatnot, what do you think of this?
    The definition of 'Life' lies in the bonds of atoms and the way they are arranged, as described in this video.
    I am testing this with my teachers and want new and informative answers! New perspectives and all. Please be respectful when answering ;-;

  53. Twin Legends says:

    Black Holes:
    /fill ~ ~ ~ ~infinite ~infinite ~infinite nothing

  54. Rachel Khaing says:

    I don't like black holes

  55. Flows says:

    I just think each black hole is a mini universe, the mini universe had more black holes that have more universes and so on. And we are inside a black hole in a different universe. This goes on for infinity.

  56. gentlemen. says:

    3:05 No wonder the squirrels in my backyard drive me bananas

  57. gentlemen. says:

    4:48 I don’t know why, but I find those birds cute

  58. Taylor says:

    Perhaps black holes convert matter into a single super dense piece of matter, like when a star dies because of fusion slowly creating iron then possibly creating a neutron star. If "matter can not be destroyed or created" then maybe a black holes gravity, being so strong it can pull light in, smashes matter into the singularity maybe down to its most basic structure. So perhaps the singularity is some new type of matter. Then the super dense ball of "matter" is so incredibly heavy it weighs down the fabric of space. Does this make sense to anyone?

  59. TT yler says:

    Congrats on getting 10 million subscribers

  60. Shahin Sultana says:

    Girl in my class: Earth is flat
    Me: so is your chest

  61. SeokYeong Kim says:

    0:00 The very beginning

  62. Jakob Lyons says:


  63. Jakob Lyons says:

    Black holes can hold 100000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 SeptiBites

  64. Panzor of the lake says:

    The universe is flat

  65. DARK CHROMA says:

    that was a super cute carbon atom at 2:44

  66. Simi says:

    So black holes are like the WinRAR of universe

  67. Нян Кусьеллсинг says:

    What if the big bang was the explosion of the biggest black hole ever?

  68. Нян Кусьеллсинг says:

    5:25 I have one of these!

  69. TFX says:

    But what happens when a black hole meets another black hole?

  70. SilenceNicki says:

    Aight bros goin‘ get my Black hole ssd

  71. Koiji says:

    the blackhole information is stored in the balls

  72. Miss Tunafish says:

    Apparently not even Brahma knows how the universe works, and he created it in the first place. So how on earth do you think us puny humans can understand anything? 😂😂😂

  73. oofman 69 says:


  74. Kirby the Cute star warrior says:

    Black holes in a nutshell:

    The original Monika

  75. v4nni says:

    you: black holes
    me, an intellectual: spheres of blackness

  76. Têm internet em Mordor says:

    So…i live inside of a big computer?

  77. Highlyskeptical says:

    The ultimate problem for matter is to either reverse or escape entropy, the latter of which would involve black holes to get to another universe whose physics we adapt to while preserving the information for our sentience. Job security for future physicists.

    Makes me think about how light reflected off Earth from dinosaur times has been moving through space for millions of years.
    If FTL tech ever is developed, we could hypothetically capture those very spread out photons and see back in time.

  78. BigDaddyHook says:

    I always thought that all the blackholes will devour everything then they will all combine into a huge black hole (I like to call it the black mamba) and when Hawking radiation will take it over and when it finally gets so small it explodes then starts the Big Bang once again

  79. Henal Yeet says:

    If they are black holes and they suck things… why does it not suck itself

  80. ZeusHD Gaming says:

    White holes:Allow me to introduce myself

  81. satish kumawat says:

    What is Sapce Time. Plz explain

  82. Little Skittle says:

    I put a universe delete on my supra. LOL

  83. PigLino says:

    So in theory if I throw myself into a black hole I technically don't die me particles or "information" will be stored on a black holes surface area therfore nobody can access me but I'm not dead

  84. Dimas Surya says:

    1:05 poor Patrick.

  85. Jean-Paul Teitu II says:

    This video has profoundly changed my understanding of squirrels 🐿

  86. Dan Albert Creus says:

    Why would we worry about it if we'll all die before it happens?

  87. GhostLocalHost says:

    There are over 100 trillion galaxies in the universe and with each galaxy, there is a black hole in the middle of all of them.

  88. Tristan Hoffmann says:

    Now I know why my mom tells me to clean my room… We don't want a blackhole on earth!

  89. TheWereparadox says:

    Can you explain exactly why when particals from other dimensions split and add half of itself to something it some how makes it SMALLER ? Even if the partical is destroyed and the other part vanished all that would happen is a tiny gap in a thing that can have no gaps. 😉🌅🌌

    No Mr. Hawking you can't delete the universe. Not even you.

    Where are you looking? -Me

  90. Daragh Logan says:

    purely theorising, but what would happen if all of a certain type of important atom got sucked into blackholes, e.g. Hydrogen or carbon? so there was no more of that element left?

  91. Talha Emir says:

    I think we in the BİGGEST black hole ( I think universe is so biggest black hole)

  92. The Order Of The Ezic Star says:

    So it could be a recycling bin or garbage bin or harddrive?

  93. Jaymark Comanda says:

    This is why black beard is the strongest character in one piece lol xD

  94. piotwoii says:

    Teacher: the test is everything we covered
    The test:

  95. Kxaytea says:

    I learn more than in 9 hours in school

  96. L. D. says:

    Today I learned: Monika is actually a black hole.

  97. Fat Boi says:

    You know what can beat black holes?


  98. - Sattesail - says:

    Humans: iCloud

    Black holes: iNebula

  99. LaTe Ko says:

    What a clumsy fella 4:23

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