Saturday, April 2, 2016
B is for . . .
Wikimedia Commons CC By SA 2.5
Black Holes. And I'm not talking about your basement or the magical portal where all your free time disappears into. According to Wikipedia: a black hole is a region of spacetime exhibiting such strong gravitational effects that nothing—including particles and electromagnetic radiation such as light—can escape from inside it. Whoa.
Another way to think of it is imagining a massive amount of matter (like a star ten times bigger than the sun) being packed into a space the size of New York City. (Yo, NASA!)
Movie Trivia Quiz: The boundary of the black hole from which no escape is possible shares the same name as the title of a 1997 sci-fi flick involving a missing space ship. This ship was designed to travel through an artificial black hole in order to move faster than the speed of light. Great idea, right? Well, not really. The ship got sucked into a hell-like dimension and all the crew members went kuckoo and . . . well, let's just say they ended up taking a dirt nap.
And speaking of dirt naps (except where would you find dirt in space?) let's discuss your demise if you got sucked into a black hole outside of Hollywood. According to this Popular Science article, the traditional death goes like this:
As you fall feet first across an event horizon (that's the answer to the movie trivial quiz, y'all)—the point where nothing can escape the black hole’s gravitational pull—you don’t feel anything change. But eventually, gravity is so much stronger at your feet than your head that you’re stretched apart, like Play-Doh, until you snap.
The second theory is a bit harder to understand without reading the entire article (which is really cool if you're into this stuff), so I'll shorten it to this:
The third theory in this article postulates the existence of a wormhole inside the black hole. Now when certain particles of you get sucked in, they are transferred to another part of the universe where they might meet up with the particles of you that didn't get sucked in. And you're okay! Whew. What a relief, huh?
This controversy started when Stephen Hawking pointed out that the principals of quantum physics and general relativity can't both be true near a black hole. Say what? Well, quantum physics is about how tiny particles, like atoms, work. General relativity is concerned with how massive objects, like galaxies, work. (I bet you feel smarter already.) Black holes are both huge and small at the same time. (Ding-dang it! Now we're back to confused.)
Anyway, did you ever see Event Horizon? I did, but I don't remember it much. That was almost 20 years ago! I'm doing well to remember what happened 20 minutes ago.