The Riddle of Black Holes


Hello science and science fiction fans!  We went on another wild ride “Through the Wormhole” with Morgan Freeman on Wednesday night. I have had company so I am a few episodes behind, but I will catch up! The episode “The Riddle of Black Holes” was a theoretical ride into the very heart of a black hole!

In the first episode Freeman asked the question “Is there a creator”, and he gave us three very thought provoking answers.  In this week’s episode he did the same thing.  It would appear that Freeman intends to leave us each week scratching our heads and asking questions to further our understanding of thWormholeRiders New Logo. Click to visit WHR on Twitter!e topic.

Just what is a black hole?  Freeman tells us that “astrophysicists think that black holes might form when giant stars run out of fuel and collapse under their weight.” He then goes on to say that we do not know what a black hole really is because “a black hole is a place that the accepted laws of physics breaks down.” He then makes another thought provoking statement. He states “You, me, and the world we live in may be nothing more than an illusion.”

What does he mean when he states that “the accepted laws of physics break down”?  The video above is from a show the Science Channel did on “Seeing Black Holes”.  In the video, Dr. Michio Kaku explains exactly how the laws of physics break down. I am a huge fan of Dr. Michio Kaku so you will see his name a lot in my reports.  Physicists found that when they applied Einstein’s theory of general relativity to black holes they came up with an answer that they could not accept.

The answer to Einstein’s theory of general relativity, when applied to a black hole, states that at the center of a black hole everything is infinite.  Dr. Kaku explains in the video that infinity is “nonsense”.  I believe black holes are a place where anything goes.  Everything in a black hole is infinite, so why can’t the possibilities be infinite? In this episode we meet several theoretical physicists, their theories of what a black hole is, and what they believe the effects black holes have on the space and objects that are caught in their gravitational pull.  Professor Leonard Susskind said it best when he said “The black hole is the window into a world that we don’t have the mental architecture to envision properly.”  Freeman tells us “the notion of a black hole is the natural extension of the laws of gravity.  The closer you are to a massive object, the more the pull of its gravity slows down anything trying to escape from it.”  He explains to us that if the earth were “squeezed” into mass as small as its center, then everything trying to escape would be caught in it’s gravity.  This is the same as a black hole.

Freeman introduces the first theory from Professor Christian Ott.  Professor Ott is a physicist at the California Institute of Technology. He is trying to find out if a collapsing star can produce a black hole. He compares a supernova to a marathon runner.  “There is no heat generation, no more energy generation happening at its core so gravity keeps pulling in and there’s nothing producing pressure to sustain it. Without anything to sustain it, the star collapses.”  The shockwave that it produces is a supernova.  We had one explode in 1054 that was so bright it was visible during the day, and then again about 200 years ago.  The dust and debris from these explosions are still visible to this day. Freeman tells us that there are 2 ways to see if a supernova really produces a black hole.  The first one is to witness a supernova in our own galaxy, and the other is to use a computer to see if it’s possible to produce a virtual black hole with a virtual supernova.  Professor Ott explains that it’s difficult to use a computer to “simulate a black hole” because “it brings together a lot of physics; general relativity for gravity, and fluid dynamics for the gas that collapses, and its particle phsycis.”  After years of calculations Professor Ott has a theory of how a black hole forms.  He believes they form with an unnova or as Freeman states “it’s not a bang.  It’s a whimper”.  Ott believes that some stars simply disappear without a supernova explosion. In 1931 Karl Jansky heard a background noise coming from the center of the Milky Way galaxy.  It’s that noise that Professor Reinhard Genzel believes came from a black hole. We can’t view the center of our galaxy because there is a thick dust cloud blocking our view. Due to its wavelength, infrared light can penetrate this dust.  Genzel went to the Anaconda desert of Chile in 1992 to use infrared light to look at the center of our galaxy.  Professor Genzel and his team mapped the large cluster of stars at our galactic center.  They found that the stars were moving around a very massive object that was invisible.  He then concluded that the noise that is coming from the center of our galaxy is coming from a massive black hole.  In fact, scientists predict the black hole at the center of our galaxy is a supermassive black hole because it is 4 million times the mass of our sun. “Truth is stranger than sci-fi”.  That is the next place Freeman takes us through the wormhole. Julie Comerford is an astronomer and she has been studying the center of galaxies gathering information on the black holes.  She studies the gas that falls into the black hole.  As the gas falls into the black hole it lights up under the extreme temperatures. Julie found that some black holes had 2 different peaks.  It would appear that they are waltzing.  She calls this phenomenon the “black hole waltz”.  Freeman said “black holes are paired up and dancing the cosmic night away.” Janna Levin is theoretical cosmologist that listens for black holes, and she believes you should be able to hear a pair of black holes as they dance around each other.  Imagine space time is like fabric, and  black holes warp this fabric.  It’s this warping that theoretically should cause waves that can be heard. She demonstrates a computer simulation of a pair of black holes orbiting around each other and the noise that they make.  The pattern that is formed looks a lot like the pattern that protons and electrons make as they orbit one another.  How can two black holes that are massive behave like two subatomic particles?  “This connection between the very big and the very small has already sparked a war between two of the greatest living physicists” explains Freeman. Einstein’s theory of relativity describes the very large made up of planets, stars, and galaxies.  However, it does not describe the world of the very small.  Quantum mechanics is the study of the very small. Professor Stephen Hawking believes that when virtual particles enter the event horizon of a black hole one escapes and the other falls into the black hole.  The one that escapes is emitted as radiation.  The radiation is also known as  “Hawking radiation.”  Seven years after his theory on Hawking radiation Professor Hawking stated that “for every ounce of material a black hole absorbed into it’s core it would radiate an equivalent amount of energy from it’s event horizon.”  This became known as the “information paradox.”

Leonard Susskind is a theoretical physicist that started as a plumber, and he disagrees with Hawking.  Susskind said that Hawking’s theory “violates a very very fundamental principal of physics called conservation of information.”  Hawking believed that the center of the black hole and the event horizon do not share any information.  He also believes that information that falls into the black hole is lost forever. Hawking believed that black holes simply disappear and all the information and mass inside of a black hole also disappears. Susskind emphatically does not support this theory.  This “War of black holes” waged on for 30 years.

Susskind introduced us to two astronauts Bob, Alice and the “dead and alive paradox.”  Because of Einstein’s theory of general relativity, the two astronauts have two separate views of the same event.  From Bob’s point of view, Alice will drift closer to the black hole and once she reaches the event horizon she will appear to stay there.  From Alice’s point of view she will fall through the event horizon without noticing anything different until she reaches the inside of the black hole.  Alice would then die because inside a black hole is a very hostile environment. Susskind then explains the “holographic principal”.  He applied string theory to what happens at the event horizon of a black hole.  In string theory particles are vibrating at high speeds. This time he puts Alice in an airplane that has a propeller. He said a black hole is like a high speed camera.  It can take pictures and smear them all over the even horizon.  Alice would still continue to see the hub of her airplane, but Bob would see her smeared all over the event horizon.

In both cases Alice meets a horrible death.  However, Susskind solved the information paradox by showing that information that is radiated out as Hawking radiation is smeared on the event horizon forever, and is not lost as Hawking believed.  Hawking conceded defeat at a conference in Dublin.  Freeman does not go into detail with this but I will expand on it just a little.  Hawking stated at this conference that for every universe that has a black hole there is a parallel universe without a black hole.  Therefore, information is preserved in the universe without the black hole.  This revelation of Hawking came after a lengthy hospital stay in which he almost conceded his life.  Thankfully for us and all of physics Professor Hawking won his battle. Susskind not only won the battle of the black holes, but he has forced us to change the way we look at everything in our universe.  We see objects differently now.  There’s a 3D version of us and a holographic image of everything.  How these two different puzzles fit together is a new challenge to physicists. Freeman wraps up this episode of “Through the Wormhole by saying “black holes have been a source of fascination for almost a century.  We’ve thought of them as time machines, shortcuts to parallel universes, and monsters that will one day devour the Earth.

While any of these ideas may turn out to be true one day, right here right now black holes have a profound effect on you and me.  Their shimmering holographic surfaces seem to be telling us that everything wClick to visit Redone68 (Sandra) on Twitter!e think is here is mirrored out there at the very edge of our mysterious universe.”

Thank you all for reading. Please feel free to leave a comment here or visit me on Twitter by clicking my avatar image. Thank you.

RedOne68 (Sandra)


Hey Wormholeriders! I like to think of myself as a career student because i've been attending university since I graduated high school many many years ago. I have enough hours to have received a degree, but because I had changed my major 3 times I still lacked enough for a bachelors degree. Medicine was finally where I settled and was attending school to become a nurse when I had to return to work. So, I have an associates in behavioral science and that's all I can say towards an education. I like to think i'm educated on life. I work in the administrative side of healthcare and I enjoy doing that. I have one child and he is the love of my life. Children are truly one of our greatest treasures. I am a twin and my sister doesn't live close enough to me for my liking, but she is not too far away. I am a science fiction junkie!! Ever since I got my first Star Wars x-wing fighter as a child I have been hooked. I was somewhat of a nerd in school and science was always my favorite subject. I dreamed of being an astronaut or a astronomer because I loved looking at the stars and planets. It wasn't long after I started university that I found out I could not do the math that was required to get a degree in astronomy. So, I settled for something more realistic and just decided to watch and learn about the heavens on television. Bio Questions and Answers 1. Handle/Screenname: Redone68 for Wormholdriders and Twitter. Most peoople call me Red and that also works. 2. Education/Awards/Etc: Associates in behavioral science. Let's see awards, does band nerd count?! Lots of awards in music which is my first love. 3. Favorite Stargate characters: My favorite Stargate Universe characters would have to be Dr. Rush and Eli. I like brains what can I say! A close runner up would have to be Chloe. My favorite SGA characters would have to be Dr. Rodney McKay and Lt. Colonel John Sheppard. 4. Favorite Actresses: #1 is Evangeline Lilly. I also like Anna Torv, Ming-Na, Emily Deschanel, Michelle Pfeiffer, Kathy Bates, Meryl Streep, and Meg Ryan. I'm sure the list could be a lot longer, but these are the actresses I watch regardless of the role they are playing. 5. Favorite Actors: Josh Holloway...yes ladies...Josh Holloway!! The rest are Joe Flannigan, David Hewlett, John Noble, Robert Carlyle, David Blue, and Harrison Ford. There are lots more but I could spend all day listing them. 6. Favorite Band/Performers: I am a classic rock junkie! Anything classic is good and my favorite is Led Zeppelin. New stuff is good too. I like Stone Sour, Black Label Society, Disturbed, and even Metallica. With me louder and faster is better! 7. Hobbies: I love outdoors so one of my favorites is camping. It's been a family vacation for 35yrs. I also love to fish but never get to go. Hiking is another thing I like to do when I get to. I do some painting but nothing you would pay money for. 8. Pets: I have a cat named Chloe, yes that Chloe. 9. What's your theme song?: I've never really given this much thought. I can relate to many songs during the course of one week. Today I could say "Another One Bites the Dust". Tommorow maybe a little different. 10. If you could have a sidekick, who would it be?: I'll go off into fantasy land and say Sawyer from "Lost" just because he is so tough and sexy. In real life my everyday sidekick is my son. He's my buddy. 11. Favorite Food: Junk food 12. What would you keep in a utility belt?: Tools of course! 13. Favorite Stargate Episode: I can't really say. I enjoyed the movie but didn't start watching the show until Atlantis. 14. Favorite Stargate Atlantis Episode: All of them. There isn't one that I don't love. This comes from the heart. I have watched the reruns over and over and never skip one! 15. Favorite Stargate Universe Episode: Again, I love all the episodes for this show as well. If I had to pick one this season that I would watch an infinite number of times it would be "Human". 16. Favorite Fringe Episode: All of them! 17. Favorite Caprica Episodes: The first episode was the one that i've enjoyed the most. I watch all of them and enjoy them all, but the pilot was great! 18. What was your sci-fi gateway?: I watched the original "Star Trek" with my mother when I was young, but I didn't get into it until "Star Wars". Yeah, I was a huge fan. I was even in the "Star Wars" fan club. That made me an official nerd! 19. What's under my bed?: A monster i'm sure of it! 20. Favorite TV shows (not Stargate): Lost, Fringe, Caprica, Deadliest Catch, Paranormal State, and Bones. Must see all of them! 21. What is your dream job?: Oncologist because I would love to join the fight against cancer. If I could go back 20yrs and start my education over, I would definately be a healer. 22. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?: On a beach somewhere. I'm not picky. I just need sun and fun! 23. If your life could be written by any author who would it be and what genre?: Easy Stephen King because 1. I love him and 2. my life seems pretty scary at times. I believe King gave away the genre. If not, horror would definately be the genre. I am exaggerating a little of course, but some days seem kinda mad. 24. Favorite movies: "Star Wars", "Empire Strikes Back", the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, "Gone with the Wind", "Hellraiser", and all the Indiana Jones movies. 25. What are your goals/dreams/aspirations for This is going to be something I enjoy and I hope that the readers get some enjoyment out of what I write as well.

6 thoughts on “The Riddle of Black Holes

  1. very cosmic review on through the wormhole the riddle of the black hole infinity and beyond! well done Sandra great job enjoy it impressively

  2. Hey Sandra,

    Super report! Loved the video news embed you selected to compliment the analysis. I had seen this before and think it was perfect for “Through the Wormhole”! As for knowing everything, even Albert used some “tricks in his equation” to make it “work”. Thank you for the time and effort in your research.

    Best Reagrds

  3. Yes Daniel!! Precisely!! I love it though. It means we do NOT understand everything and I believe when we do understand black holes we will have a better understanding of the start of our universe. I have a real radical theory I will share with you on FB.

    I do not see a problem with infinity in the equations. If a black hole consumes and never stops consuming then the amount of mass it can hold is infinite. I believe there’s a connection with the singularity before the big bang and the singularity at the heart of a black hole.

    Thanks for your comment Daniel!

  4. Beautiful article!!!
    I use to back in time in order to understand how these theories works: on Cauchy, Karl Weierstrass, Bézout, Zariski, Penrose, Hassler Whitney, René Thom… the mathematical aspects refers to objects that are not defined.

    Are jumps of infinite discontinuities, when the values does not exist, because are infinities.

    so if we apply those canons to gravitational fields we got a “black hole”

    Jorge Luis Borges use to say that: the devil of all theories is the Infinity, when Infinity come to scene all toughs begins to tremble

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