Here’s an interesting ‘graph from an even more interesting article:
Black holes are frustrating, though, because their extreme gravity exposes the major inadequacy in our current scientific understanding of the universe – we don’t know how to reconcile quantum mechanics and general relativity. With general relativity, we can make accurate predictions about objects with certainty, but on the tiny scale of quantum mechanics it’s only possible to talk about the behaviour of objects in terms of probability. When we do the maths on what happens to things that fall into black holes, using relativity gives results that break quantum mechanics; the same goes vice versa.
Another astounding note: “The choice for physicists, once again, was to: a) accept the firewall, and throw out general relativity, or b) accept that information dies in black holes, and quantum mechanics is wrong.”
Perhaps a better explanation of it, tho longer, is found here: Nature – Steven Hawking: there are no black holes…
The interesting thing about all this to me is that it shows just how confused science is about what’s actually going on in the universe. Despite the fact that our old science and a little general relativity work pretty well on the practical scale so that rockets shot at the moon actually get there and such, it’s much less satisfying on the philosophical level. It doesn’t work at all when it comes to answering really fundamental questions like ‘what is the source of gravity?’ or ‘what is the nature of light?’ or ‘how do we know that what we know is accurate?’.
From another source, an even better formulation of the problem:
As I have mentioned in previous articles, physics is fractured. It has produced two theories that are shining beacons of modern science: quantum mechanics and general relativity. Both are accurate to the limits of our ability to measure them, and both have predicted results that were years ahead of their time and later experimentally verified. However, the similarities end there. At the heart of quantum mechanics is a mathematical framework of linear equations that describes the very small bits of the universe as probabilistic. General relativity is described by an elegant set of highly nonlinear equations that detail the very big in a completely deterministic manner: polar opposites that stand in stark contrast with one another. This discrepancy has reared its ugly head every now and again, but one place it is clearly demonstrated is the “information loss paradox.”
— From Matt Ford in ArsTechnica A potential solution…
Though this paradox seems to have been resolved here: Astrophysics — it’s still a basic contradiction between General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, and leaves many questions unanswered. And raises as many new ones as it answers, at least for me:
… presenting physicists with a stark choice: either accept that firewalls exist and that general relativity breaks down, or accept that information is lost in black holes and quantum mechanics is wrong1. “For us, firewalls seem like the least crazy option, given that choice,” says Marolf.
The failings of science are even more pronounced when we get into questions about why and how all this is even here in the first place. Personally, I’ve always preferred the ancient formula — “What happens at the end of a kalpa? The Iron Tree blooms in the Void.”