Photons are the carriers of the electromagnetic field. Each single photon is endowed with a given energy, hf, where f is the frequency of said photon. In some circumstances, the energy a photon possesses is less than the one it needs to get out of a gravitational well. So it cannot get out: a black hole forms.
Essentially, this comes from the fact a photon’s energy is finite, whereas the energy of a gravitational field can grow infinitely… Or so I, and others, used to think, until I became skeptical.
Simulated view of a black hole in front of the Large Magellanic Cloud, one of many small galaxies satellite to the giant Milky Way. This Black Hole is assumed to be alone, without accretion disk (accretion would make the Black Hole very luminous!). The ratio between the black hole Schwarzschild radius and the observer distance to it is 1:9. Of note is the gravitational lensing effect known as an Einstein ring, which produces a set of two fairly bright and large but highly distorted images of the Cloud as compared to its actual angular size.
The two arcs of circle top and bottom are actually the Large Magellanic Cloud, appearing in two places, as light goes above and below the Black Hole. The Milky Way appears above, strongly distorted by gravitational lensing. [2006 image by French physicist Alain R.]
Gravitons are the (alleged) carriers of the gravitational field. Each of them has some energy. At some point the energy gravitons individually posses ought to be less than the potential energy needed to get out of a gravitational well. (The reasoning is the same as for photons.)
But then what?
In the case of photons, what is blocked is light the electromagnetic field: light, in another word.
What is blocked when gravitons get blocked? The gravitational field itself! Thus a black hole would not just then show up as a black, “frozen star”. A Black Hole should outright violate (apparent) matter conservation. It should disconnect gravitationally.
Following this simple logic, at some point a mass collapsing gravitationally should disappear, not just visually, but gravitationally.
Yet, astronomical observations reveal hyper massive black holes at the center of galaxies. This tends to indicate that physics may happen inside a black hole that we can neither observe, nor predict.
I presented these simple ideas a very long time ago in Stanford, a private university in California, personally or in seminars, to some of the household names in the field. The reaction of my iconoclasm was close to indignant anger. It’s easy to see why. We human beings live lives which are endowed with sense only by forgetting that we make little sense individually, absent others.
A way to make sense is by giving love and care. Another, mostly the obverse, by the will to power. A scientific, or, more generally, an intellectual career (philosopher, poet, writer, etc.)marries both love and power. Science, in particular, unites a potent hierarchy akin to priesthood, with the pretense of great magic vis-à-vis the public and being a gift to humanity. Or so it is perceived by its participants. Break the spell, and scientists feel as insects instead of semi-gods, and the absurdity of their position, that of thieves in full sight, exposed to the pillory, is too much to bear.
Yet, a quick glance at the history of science shows that great errors and lack of understanding, spectacularly erroneous theories could have been detected easily, with simple observations.
I am not saying that science is always simple. Far from it. For example, the heliocentric theory could be only demonstrated to be sure with 100% certainty, only after a careful study of the phases of Venus, through increasingly powerful telescopes, during the middle of the seventeenth century. Before that, geocentrism failed the smell test (it was too contrived, and the sun was so much bigger). True. The smell test is philosophical in nature. Before that, one could only say that it was un-scientific to rule out the most likely theory (heliocentrism), just because one could not prove it, and because it enraged so many people in high places.
It cannot be any different today: the very idea of the priesthood, scientific or not, is making some humans into quasi-gods. Out of this divine hierarchy comes the certainty that metaphysics has been solved.
Thus, when I suggested that, on the face of it, ultimately, Black Holes ought to disconnect gravitationally with the rest of the universe, I undermined the principle that the greatest scientists (I will not write their names as not to enrage them further), covered as they are with great medals, after all, do not understand much more about gravitation, than we did, say, three centuries ago.
I caused these people existential pain: no, you are not the greatest of the great, having achieved greater understanding than anyone did before you, colossally dominating history and humanity, and deservedly so. What you call greatest of the greatness, seems, after all, to be just errors of the smugly ignorant.
Einstein was not that way. He said:
All these fifty years of conscious brooding have brought me no nearer to the answer to the question, ‘What are light quanta?’ Nowadays every Tom, Dick and Harry thinks he knows it, but he is mistaken. (Albert Einstein, 1954)
Most importantly, Albert Einstein also suspected that Matter could not be described by field theory:
I consider it quite possible that physics cannot be based on the field concept, i.e., on continuous structures. In that case, nothing remains of my entire castle in the air, gravitation theory included, [and of] the rest of modern physics. (Albert Einstein, 1954)
In my theory, elementary particles are not only non-local (Einstein’s Error was to suppose that they were), but they break (giving rise to Dark Matter). But I will not go as far as to say that “nothing remains”. Far from it, my dear Uncle Albert. Quantum Field Theory remains, as an approximation. Just as the epicycle theory remains, as a sort of Fourier Analysis of a periodic motion.
Some physicists will laugh at the simplicity of the preceding reasoning, and just exasperatedly utter: “that’s ridiculous” as some of the most prestigious specialists of the field did to me, decades ago. Maybe it is. Just tell me why. I am humbly waiting.