These results would seem to imply that the evolution of the QGP cannot be given by a unitary theory.

Quite on the contrary. Both sides are equivalent so the AdS/CFT is a proof that the black hole dynamics is unitary - because its equivalent to another theory (the CFT) whose dynamics is given by a manifestly and exactly Hermitian Hamiltonian. This also implies that the information is not lost when black holes evaporate.

I am confused by your statement about "sacrosanct unitarity of quantum gravity". If it is sacrosanct, why do you claim it is not true? In reality, even if some people could call it sacrosanct today, the unitarity of quantum gravity is much more nontrivial - and has been much more controversial for decades - than the unitarity of the laws governing quark-gluon plasma. The latter are *self-evidently* unitary.

The AdS/CFT correspondence became the most well-known method - but not the only method - to resolve the much harder problem of unitarity of quantum gravity. It's the key method that has also convinced Hawking that he was wrong and the information is preserved. And the answer is Yes, any evolution in quantum gravity in an asymptotically AdS (or flat) spacetime is unitary even if it involves the birth and disappearance of black holes.

You may be confused by the term "dissipation". Dissipation doesn't mean that the theory fails to be unitary. Dissipation is a process in which macroscopic forms of energy are converted to the microscopic forms of energy - heat - which allow the entropy to increase. But the full microscopic theory is still unitary; if you measure the degrees of freedom describing the QGP accurately, they will be shown to evolve in a unitary way (even though, the effective theories we use in practice may display some disappearance of the non-uniformities and information).

But in the black hole case, people didn't know any reason (e.g. a description) that would indicate that the information was preserved, even in principle. This changed with the AdS/CFT correspondence, Matrix theory, and others. Since the late 1990s, the status of "dissipation" in quantum gravity has been on par with the status in field theories. At the fundamental level, the evolution is unitary and preserves the information even though approximate, macroscopic effective descriptions of the phenomena fail to see this fact.

This post imported from StackExchange Physics at 2014-04-01 16:24 (UCT), posted by SE-user Luboš Motl