All that enters a black hole may not be lost; data could leak out over trillions of years as Hawking radiation. A new analysis indicates that the recovery can proceed much faster than previously thought. Imagine Alice hurling some quantum bits into a relatively young black hole; it would take Bob half of the hole's lifetime to recover enough Hawking radiation to reproduce the bits. But things change if Alice holds onto her bits until after the hole has reached the halfway mark and Bob has entangled some of his own bits with Alice's, linking them across any distance.

Alice's dumped bits would spread their entanglement to the outgoing Hawking radiation. Bob could then, in principle, reconstruct Alice's bits by taking the next few bits of Hawking radiation following the data dump and mixing them with his own bits. Bob would need only about 10 percent more Hawking particles than the number of bits that Alice had thrown in—and because black holes could emit as many as 1,000 bits per second, Bob might not need much time at all.