Sorry I haven't been able to respond to the interesting remarks on my last 
post, but it took a while to digest them, and my current health concerns take 
up a lot of my time, so I haven't had time to come up with responses that are 
properly thought out.

In the meantime, here is an interesting Nature news report about Hawking's (and 
Strominger's) recent proposal for how information can be preserved in black 
holes (which his 1976 paper set up as a problem for the laws of physics, which 
imply information conservation at the most basic level. The solution involves a 
way empty space can carry information in QM via "soft particles". The answer is 
apparently not completely worked out as yet, and there are critics.

Seth Lloyd described a different possible explanation in his book Programming 
the Universe: A Quantum Computer Scientist Takes On the 
Knopf<> (2000) that involves taking 
into consideration the information in boundaries, which I found plausible, 
since the information preservation in physics follows from consideration of 
basic laws together with the constraints of boundary conditions, neither alone.

Perhaps the two approaches are not really distinct. They may eventually cast 
light on each other. For the time being the Hawking/Strominger proposal also 
looks like it can solve the "firewall" problem as well, which has the Black 
Hole boundary being very hot (again, contrary to physical expectations), 
because information can be transferred into radiation instead of energy, so the 
information transfer doesn't require a high temperature at the black hole 
boundary, unlike other forms of radiation production.  All of these 
explanations, and even stating the problem, require information notions, not 
just energy as in classical physics.

John Collier
Professor Emeritus and Senior Research Associate
University of KwaZulu-Natal

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