Hawking wondered how this is possible. The physicist declared that the question of exactly how black holes are able to store so much information is a great mystery. He also stated that physicists are working hard to unravel the mystery.
Hawking compared black holes to the hard drive that stores information on a computer. He said that, given the sheer mass of matter they absorb, black holes are the "most efficient hard drives in the universe."
"Hawking spoke through the robotic voice of his computer, his long silences punctuated by a combination of jokes and ponderous thoughts about the universe."
However, he made the following intriguing remark, suggesting that remnants of all that space junk may still exist somewhere, and an analyst would just have to know how to "read" it, much as a scientist trained to carbon-date items can analyze their properties using a sophisticated technique.
"It's like burning an encyclopedia. The information is not lost, if you keep all the ashes. But it's difficult to read."
BBC News reports that Hawking believes that the human race may not be around for more than another 100 years. The author of A Brief History Of Time told an audience that he believes humanity could seal its own doom during the next century. Disasters likely to befall us include nuclear war, global warming, and the spread of genetically engineered viruses, according to Hawking.
Hawking is not optimistic about humanity's chances of getting out of such self-made conundrums. He stated that further progress in science and technology will create "new ways things can go wrong."
Hawking made one hopeful remark -- he stated that if humanity manages to build colonies on other worlds, it may be able to survive.
"Although the chance of a disaster to planet Earth in a given year may be quite low, it adds up over time, and becomes a near certainty in the next thousand or ten thousand years...By that time we should have spread out into space, and to other stars, so a disaster on Earth would not mean the end of the human race...However, we will not establish self-sustaining colonies in space for at least the next hundred years, so we have to be very careful in this period."