Thursday 3 December 2015

Black Holes and Revelations

I have now finished my superb Futurelearn online course on Gravity, and in the final week the subject of study has been Black Holes.

They are, as you might have expected, completely crazy places. Sadly, unlike the 1979 Disney movie "The Black Hole", they are not filled with lost souls being taken to hell while Maximillian Schell watches from atop a burning rock fused with his robot creation; also called Maximillian and BTW one of cinemas most memorable androids.

They are in actuality far stranger than that. What most folk would consider the "boundary" of a Black Hole, the Event Horizon beyond which light can no longer escape its clutches, is a baffling place where due to relativistic time dilation you can never see something cross the horizon, just see a last frozen image of it before it slowly fades from view. Nothing more can ever be known about anything that crosses this boundary.

Within the Event Horizon, time and space decide they are reversed. Space only points in one direction now, towards the singularity, the infinitely small centre of the black hole where all mass falls, and time can run anyway it wants, so indeed you might perhaps see your own back, and your own past and future, as you fall into the singularity.

Which you wouldn't be able to do, because if you hadn't already been fried by the tremendous amount of X and Gamma rays that are found around black holes, the spaghettification of your body by the intense gravitational field will be your unpleasantly stretched out fate.

Then there is information? Is it preserved in there to be slowly re-emitted by Hawking radiation, or does it imprint on the surface of the event horizon like a hologram? Or is it scrambled, or lost forever?

The concepts are mindblowing.


All text copyright CreamCrackeredNature 03.12.15


  1. My head hurts after reading this - feel as though I am in that Black Hole!

  2. My mind is boggled thinking about it but a very, very interesting post Simon. I leave boggled ;)

  3. Thanks Denise, does my head in as well, but it is a great course

  4. My head feels pleasantly light when I'm reading your recent posts.
    These concepts are so totally mind-blowing. :)

  5. I love putting this stuff out there, though if freaks my understanding as well

  6. This sounds like it's been a really interesting course Simon, glad you've enjoyed it! I've loved reading about them. - Tasha

  7. Thanks Natasha! I shall have to think of another one as stimulating!

  8. Very interesting post Simon - so glad you enjoyed the course - will be looking for that to be repeated :) Off to watch the video now!