Earlier this year, Stephen Hawking proposed a radical reformulation in how we define black holes — but this explanation still left a big unanswered question to how black holes work. Now, a physicist says he's cracked that problem.

The problem centers around just what happens to information when it is encountered by a black hole. A black hole is held to be surrounded by a glow of radiation called Hawking radiation, which is theorized to slowly take over the black hole and then eventually evaporate over incredible amounts of time. But as the radiation evaporates, the information it contains would theoretically be destroyed — leaving the problem of just what happened to it unsolved.

That's where Chris Adami of Michigan State University says that his solution comes in. The answer to what happened to the information, he explained in a statement, lies in the concept of stimulated emission—- basically the information is copied, much like you would with a Xerox:

Stimulated emission is the physical process behind LASERS (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation). Basically, it works like a copy machine: you throw something into the machine, and two identical somethings come out. If you throw information at a black hole, just before it is swallowed, the black hole first makes a copy that is left outside. This copying mechanism was discovered by Albert Einstein in 1917, and without it, physics cannot be consistent,"

It's an interesting idea that could offer a potentially elegant explanation to the paradox of just how information is dealt with by black holes. What's more, Adami says that his solution fits with Hawking's theory, showing that his theory of how a black hole evaporates is correct.

You can check out the full paper, published by Adami and Greg Ver Steeg of the University of Southern California in Classical and Quantum Gravity, here — and tell us what you think of the new solution below.