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The Destruction of Black Holes

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There are a number of important thought experiments that involve raising and lowering boxes full of radiation in the vicinity of black hole horizons. My talk will look at the limitations placed on these thought experiments by the null energy condition, which imposes a fundamental bound on the tensile-strength-to-weight ratio of the materials involved, makes it impossible to build a box near the horizon that is wider than a single wavelength of the Hawking quanta and puts a severe constraint on the operation of ‘space elevators’ near black holes. In particular, proposals for ‘mining’ black holes by lowering boxes near the horizon, collecting some Hawking radiation and dragging it out to infinity cannot proceed nearly as rapidly as has previously been claimed. reference: arXiv:1207.3342.

This talk is part of the DAMTP Friday GR Seminar series.

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