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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: April 2020

10 - Why Black Hole Information Loss Is Paradoxical

from Part III - Issues of Interpretation

Summary

I distinguish between two versions of the black hole information-loss paradox. The first arises from apparent failure of unitarity on the spacetime of a completely evaporating black hole, which appears to be non-globally hyperbolic; this is the most commonly discussed version of the paradox in the foundational and semipopular literature, and the case for calling it `paradoxical' is less than compelling. But the second arises from a clash between a fully statistical-mechanical interpretation of black hole evaporation and the quantum-field-theoretic description used in derivations of the Hawking effect. This version of the paradox arises long before a black hole completely evaporates, seems to be the version that has played a central role in quantum gravity, and is genuinely paradoxical. After explicating the paradox, I discuss the implications of more recent work on AdS/CFT duality and on the `Firewall paradox', and conclude that the paradox is if anything now sharper. The article is written at a (relatively) introductory level and does not assume advanced knowledge of quantum gravity.