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Space Science

What Would It Look Like To Fall Into a Black Hole? 154

Posted by timothy
from the phrase-your-answer-in-wine-review-terms dept.
CNETNate writes "A new video simulation developed by Andrew Hamilton and Gavin Polhemus of the University of Colorado, Boulder, on New Scientist today, shows what you might see on your way towards a black hole's crushing central singularity. Hamilton and Polhemus built a computer code based on the equations of Einstein's general theory of relativity, and the video produced allows the viewer to follow the fate of an imaginary observer on an orbit that swoops down into a giant black hole weighing 5 million times the mass of the sun, about the same size as the hole in the centre of our galaxy. The research could help physicists understand the apparently paradoxical fate of matter and energy in a black hole."
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What Would It Look Like To Fall Into a Black Hole?

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  • Re:In other words (Score:4, Insightful)

    by R3d M3rcury (871886) on Thursday April 02, 2009 @05:25PM (#27436799) Journal

    True. On the other hand, if I stuck you on the surface of Titan, you'd be dead, too. So it's pretty pointless to envision the surface of Titan or send probes there or anything like that.

  • Re:In other words (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Thursday April 02, 2009 @05:29PM (#27436857) Homepage Journal

    1. Reaching a black hole is not impossible with current technology, but it is beside the point.

    2. This is a research tool intended to help physicists understand what happens to matter as it enters a black hole.

    3. Using all your grant money to run on an SGI cluster is so... 1990s. This was probably rendered on a modern laptop. If the calculations really did turn out to be too computationally intensive for a modern personal computer (I wouldn't count on it), they would have bought time on one of the more modern Linux or Mac computing clusters.

    4. "Cool" is not the purpose. If it was, there wouldn't be fun guide-lines left in the film. This is a research tool that happened to get passed on to NewScientist to share with anyone who might be interested.

  • Re:In other words (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DRJlaw (946416) on Thursday April 02, 2009 @05:46PM (#27437085)

    Once you came near the event horizon (given current technology) you would more than likely be dead, so this is a pretty pointless video...

    Pointless unless you've studied relativistic physics, in which case the video is a modernized version of the classic thought experiment "Einstein's Train." [syr.edu]. Everyone involved would be pretty dead if the train was moving at speeds fast enough to introduce relativistic effects perceptable by the ordinary senses, yet the illustration aids in an understanding of the physics.

    The article is quite clear:

    That's where visualisations like this might just help. "Close to the singularity, it appears that the entire three-dimensional universe is being crushed into a two-dimensional surface," says Hamilton (see Our world may be a giant hologram). But whether it hints that a 2D view is more fundamental is not yet clear. "Does it have any profound significance? I don't know..."

    The death of the hypothetical observer is irrelevant to the usefulness of the video.

  • Re:In other words (Score:5, Insightful)

    by linzeal (197905) on Thursday April 02, 2009 @05:48PM (#27437109) Homepage Journal
    Figuring out the Riemann geometry [google.com] for this was non-trivial and should be lauded not dismissed as some trivial "cutesy video".
  • Re:Simpsons Did It (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fractoid (1076465) on Thursday April 02, 2009 @11:37PM (#27440661) Homepage
    I'm gonna have to whoosh a whoosh here.

    Whooosh! :)

Nobody said computers were going to be polite.

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