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Jul 11, 2021

Islands behind the horizon

Posted by in categories: cosmology, mathematics, neuroscience

Math about black holes:


If you’ve been following the arXiv, or keeping abreast of developments in high-energy theory more broadly, you may have noticed that the longstanding black hole information paradox seems to have entered a new phase, instigated by a pair of papers [1, 2] that appeared simultaneously in the summer of 2019. Over 200 subsequent papers have since appeared on the subject of “islands”—subleading saddles in the gravitational path integral that enable one to compute the Page curve, the signature of unitary black hole evaporation. Due to my skepticism towards certain aspects of these constructions (which I’ll come to below), my brain has largely rebelled against boarding this particular hype train. However, I was recently asked to explain them at the HET group seminar here at Nordita, which provided the opportunity (read: forced me) to prepare a general overview of what it’s all about. Given the wide interest and positive response to the talk, I’ve converted it into the present post to make it publicly available.

Well, most of it: during the talk I spent some time introducing black hole thermodynamics and the information paradox. Since I’ve written about these topics at length already, I’ll simply refer you to those posts for more background information. If you’re not already familiar with firewalls, I suggest reading them first before continuing. It’s ok, I’ll wait.

Done? Great; let me summarize the pre-island state of affairs with the following two images, which I took from the post-island review [3] (also worth a read):

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