Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Do They Just Make This Stuff Up?

And in a related blog post, as I pondered Oteil's comment about time becoming more important than money, it got me back to black holes.

I recently watched a documentary featuring Stephen Hawking in an attempt to stretch the boundaries of my tiny brain.

In this documentary he set about proving that there can be no God because of scientific theories regarding the creation of the universe.

He went far beyond the Big Bang and far beyond my ability to understand it all.

But somewhere in his argument the subject of black holes came up, and I believe he said that time does not exist in black holes, or that time stops in black holes.

This immediately piqued my interest.

If I could crawl inside a black hole and stop time, I would decorate the interior with mirrors and contemplate myself endlessly until I understood myself perfectly.

Then I would re-emerge a new man, the real me, back into my current life, ready to do with my talents and strengths what destiny had originally planned for me.

Fully. Satisfyingly. Soul validatingly.

Let's not consider what happened to my family and friends while I was in the black hole. With my diminished powers of comprehension I could be in there for a long time. The consequences for everyone else are too complicated to factor in.

I just rooted around online trying to dig up more facts about this stop time thing. Got nowhere with that but learned a lot about black holes.

In the 1970's Hawking shook up the scientific world with his theory of black holes. Black holes being entities with gravity so powerful even light can't escape. They possess a mysterious singularity at their cores that approaches zero size and infinite density, with the power to pulverize anything that comes within reach.

Then, in January of this year, Hawking said there are no black holes. At least not as previously conceived.

His original theory postulated an "event horizon" - an invisible threshold to the black hole beyond which nothing can escape. If you tried to get back out of the black hole you could never do it because of it's immense gravitational pull.

This does not help me at all.

A couple of years ago, physicists at the Kavli institute analyzed the event horizon and came to the conclusion that rather than being invisible, it would have to be a seething sheet of energy. They called it a firewall, saying "the event horizon would literally be a ring of fire that burns anyone falling through."

This does not help me at all.

Hawking now theorizes that instead of a sharply defined event horizon, black holes could have a mushier barrier called an "apparent horizon", which is firm enough to hold stuff in, but not firm enough to generate a ring of fire.

This does not help me at all.

BUT he goes on to say that the apparent horizon could disappear, leaving the door open for escape from a black hole.

This gives me hope.

However, before I rocket off to the nearest black hole to find myself, I think I will wait a while in case Stephen Hawking changes his mind again.

Maybe I'll just read some Kierkegaard in the meantime.

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