Thought Experiments


Video: 2.5 Ways to Die in a Black Hole

A new twist on a 40-year-old black hole paradox has physicists puzzling over the fundamental laws of nature. This video demystifies this “information paradox” while exploring different nightmarish scenarios of being swallowed by a black hole: being torn apart, being burnt to a crisp, and being chaotically garbled. Understanding this deadly puzzle could revolutionize how we think about space, time, and the matter that makes up everything in the universe.

Go Deeper
Editor’s picks for further reading

Cosmic Variance: Joe Polchinski on Black Holes, Complementarity, and Firewalls
Go inside the information paradox with physicist Joe Polchinski, one of the authors of the paper that sparked the firewall controversy.

The Nature of Reality: Do Black Holes Destroy Information?
Our primer on the black hole information paradox.

The Nature of Reality: Stephen Hawking Serves Up Scrambled Black Holes”
A look at Stephen Hawking’s proposal to resolve the firewall problem.

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Anna Rothschild

    Anna Rothschild is the digital associate producer for NOVA, where she makes short videos on everything from spacetime to slime molds. She is the 2012 winner of the American Institute of Physics Science Communication Award in New Media, and her work was included in the 2012 Science Studio collection, an anthology of the best science multimedia on the web. Anna has a bachelor's degree in biology from Brown University, and a master's in science journalism from New York University.

    Greg Kestin

      Greg Kestin holds a faculty position at Harvard University, where he conducts theoretical physics research, teaches, and produces educational online content. He earned his physics Ph.D. from Harvard, as a member of The Center for the Fundamental Laws of Nature, focusing on theoretical particle physics and quantum field theory. Over his career, he has also conducted research in nuclear physics, fusion energy, and gravitational wave physics. For over a decade he has been involved with innovative educational outreach endeavors, bringing science to both students and members of the public through his writings, videos, lectures, and multimedia.