I've been watching a lot of PBS Space Time, and I don't understand what is meant by the word "information". I.E.: "information" is lost in a black hole, etc.

Is "information" real-world, actual, physical mass and particles? Is it a thing?

OR, is "information" a mathematical representation of said mass and particles? Like, in programming, Objects have Properties... Databases have columns set with data types and character lengths, and Files have metadata like, date created, modified by, etc.

If you go into a black hole, you're going to die, right?

  • $\begingroup$ "If you go into a black hole, you're going to die, right?" Statistics suggest that this will happen even if you don't go into a black hole. If you mean instantly die due to contact with a black hole, that depends a lot on the size. The answer to that seems a bit complicated, going anywhere from "yes, before you even get to the event horizon" to "not right away, but you're never getting back out". You might want to clear up what that part has to do with your main question. $\endgroup$ – JMac Apr 4 at 16:18
  • $\begingroup$ @JMac My Everybody Dies™ comment was ultimately superfluous. I'm just trying to define what is meant by "information" in Physics. $\endgroup$ – raydlevel5 Apr 4 at 18:36
  • $\begingroup$ @JMac I tend to interpret some explanations in Science/Astronomy/Physics literally. I'm beginning to believe many of these terms/definitions are simply just mathematical representations of reality. $\endgroup$ – raydlevel5 Apr 4 at 18:54

You can think of the information being discussed as being the precise arrangement of matter and radiation around the black hole. This should not seem strange as the information in books is the arrangement of ink molecules on paper, and the information in computers is the arrangement of electrons.

When the matter and radiation fall into the singularity of the black hole, they no longer have any arrangement so information seems to be lost (although it probably isn’t really).

Yes, if you go into a black hole you are going to die. For a stellar black hole, within microseconds. For a supermassive black hole, within a hour.


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