Black hole information, spacetime wormholes and baby universes

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Hawking famously observed that the formation and evaporation of black holes appears to violate the unitary evolution of quantum mechanics. Nonetheless, it has been recently discovered that a signature of unitarity, namely the "Page curve" describing the evolution of entropy, can be recovered from semiclassical gravity. This result relies on "replica wormholes" appearing in the gravitational path integral, which are examples of spacetime wormholes studied more than 30 years ago and related to interactions with closed "baby" universes. I will discuss the connection between these new and old ideas and the consequences for the black hole information problem. A central lesson is that a Hilbert space in quantum gravity can be dramatically modified by nonperturbative topology-changing processes.