Black holes are easily one of the biggest mysteries of the universe, but solving this mystery could revolutionise physics as we know it, possibly leading to the long-coveted Theory of Everything (ToE), viewed as the ‘Holy Grail’ of physics. This issue of the research*eu Results Magazine explores recent findings from EU-funded projects in this exciting field.
Plugging the (black) hole in the laws of physics
Black holes are easily one of the biggest mysteries the universe has to offer. In the eyes of the layperson, our current lack of understanding could easily be mistaken for a personal lack of command of the laws of physics. Yet, the truth is that even these laws are having a hard time withstanding the mind-boggling properties of black holes.
Physicists' debates around black holes have never been so lively. Whilst we have come to know more about how large and dense a black hole can be, how it absorbs matter down to its event horizon or how it progressively evaporates to ultimately vanish, some of the most important questions surrounding such objects are still open.
There are, for example, the questions of how a supermassive black hole equivalent to the mass of millions or billions of our sun can be created, or how binary black hole systems affect matter surrounding them. Then, there is of course the more fundamental question of what a black hole is actually made of, or even how it affects the matter in its vicinity when it’s not close enough to be absorbed.
But beyond their own physics, black holes are also a central stage for one of the most exciting questions physicists have yet to tackle: the reconciliation of general relativity – Einstein’s theory explaining gravity – with quantum mechanics, which explains the other three forces of the universe. Doing that would create a long sought-after Theory of Everything (ToE) – the Holy Grail of physics. And to get there, one has to resolve the black hole information paradox, which is pretty much the embodiment of the existing conflict between the two laws.
This issue of the research*eu Results Magazine examines all of the above questions by shedding light on the most recent black hole-related research made possible by EU funding. It then follows up with our usual thematic sections: health, society, energy, environment, aquatic resources, industry, information and communication technologies, security and fundamental research. The magazine closes with a list of upcoming events hosted by or involving EU-funded research projects.
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