I have just seen a brief clip of an article by a journalist regarding a lecture given by Hawking this week about the mystery of where information of a star goes to when it is swallowed by a black hole. As a non physicist, I am grappling with what exactly is meant by this. Isn't this just a matter of semantics? Given that we can romanticise the word "information" to mean all manner of complex things, shouldn't we be better off describing what we mean by information? From what my extremely limited knowledge of stars allows me to suggest, isn't a star essentially just energy, potential energy and mass? Although the combination of these can manufacture extreme complexity, when reduced down, that's all anything is isn't it? In which case isn't the energy (in all forms) and mass of the star simply added to that of the black hole? Hawking suggests that the information from a star (or presumably) any other body of mass that is caught by the black hole, continues to exist (in a form) at the event horizon. Is this then within the mass of the black hole i.e. added to its mass, or not? If not, then surely an event horizon will, over time, build up mass from new captures until it rivals the mass of the black hole? If, on the other hand, the "information" from the star does indeed become part of the mass of the black hole, whether as part of the event horizon, or further inside, then there is no question to ask. The way the topic was presented was that a clear distinction was made as to the separate areas of a black hole and the importance of where stellar matter would end up. My limited understanding paints a picture of a black hole as a continuous entity from a singularity out to little or no influence on matter many light years away from it, not a stepped phenomenon, with different energy level barriers. What am I missing here? A lot I suspect.