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Space Science

How To Destroy a Black Hole 364

KentuckyFC writes "The critical concept that makes a black hole black is the event horizon: a theoretical boundary in space through which light and other objects can pass in one direction but not the other. Since light cannot escape the event horizon, it must be black. The event horizon is a nuisance to astrophysicists because it hides the interesting new physics that must go on inside a black hole. What they would like is a way to get rid of the event horizon so that they can see what goes on behind it. It turns out that just such a thing may be possible, say physicists. According to the mathematics of general relativity, the event horizon should disappear if a black hole were fed enough charge and angular momentum relative to its mass. However the calculations are so fiendish (PDF) that nobody knows whether the black hole would shed this extra angular momentum and charge before it could settle into a stable 'naked' state. However, the possibility that the event horizon could be destroyed raises the question of what astrophysicists would see behind this veil. According to some, black holes are regions of spacetime with infinite curvature called singularities. Many believe that 'naked' singularities cannot exist in nature. And yet there are enough question marks to suggest that this mystery is far from settled."
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How To Destroy a Black Hole

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  • by just_another_sean ( 919159 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @12:24PM (#32536906) Journal

    People thought communicators were way to far out too when TOS came out. Now we take
    them for granted.

    Now I don't think there are going to be any practical experiments around this theory
    anytime soon but "this shit" has to start somewhere. It's been said many times before
    on /. but I'll go ahead and repeat it; a lot of scientists are heavily inspired by
    science fiction and, especially when they are young, love to see if their favorite
    tech from their favorite shows are feasible.

  • Re:Whaazzaaaa? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Captain Spam ( 66120 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @12:27PM (#32536964) Homepage

    Thing 2: How is this a good thing to do? Aren't they basically stating that they don't understand how or why this is occurring, but they want to destroy something to figure out what goes on behind it? When are they planning to do this? December 21st, 2012?

    They're scientists and engineers. "Break something to see how it works" is how scientists and engineers of all walks of life think. They're just thinking bigger than most. I gotta salute them for that.

  • by Lord Lode ( 1290856 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @12:30PM (#32537018)

    I once read a bit about black holes, and one of the things I read was: a black hole doesn't necessarily have to be very dense. It can also be sparse (and the larger, the sparser it can be). For example, if you'd take a lot of stars and planets, and put them together (but not too close together), then at one point if you make this large enough, it'll also be a black hole: there appears an event horizon around all this matter. But inside of it are still stars with gaps between them, maybe some planets orbiting around them, ... So now I wonder, if the above is true: can someone live inside that? Would there be any noticeable difference between being inside of that, and the other side (the outside) of this event horizon?

  • Really? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Tarchan ( 1021797 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @12:32PM (#32537046)
    I thought that the event horizon of a black hole was caused by the immense gravity of the main body. Just an area of space around the black hole where light would be unable to maintain enough momentum to escape the gravitational pull of the singularity. I don't even want to try understanding the calculations that this theory was derived from. If you were able to remove the event horizon, would that not mean that you would be destroying the singularity itself?
  • by pitdingo ( 649676 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @12:34PM (#32537068)
    I sure am dumb
  • by owlnation ( 858981 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @12:35PM (#32537078)

    "People thought communicators were way to far out too when TOS came out. Now we take them for granted."

    er... transporters maybe, but most people in 1966 were pretty familiar with radio... and funnily enough, even the idea of sending pictures over the air, since that's how they watched the show.

  • Re:Whaazzaaaa? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 11, 2010 @12:48PM (#32537322)

    Engineers don't concern themselves with this BS. Theoretical Physicists and other loonies rave about this nonsense, while engineers focus on actually developing APPLICABLE technology to solve ACTUAL PROBLEMS in the real world, the one we live on. We deal with scientists in this fashion: "That's a great discovery, what can we do with it?" We also typically don't break things to see how they work. We see how they work by observing them working. We break things to understand how they fail, and how it can be prevented in the future. Does not apply to a black hole, IMO.

  • by doesnothingwell ( 945891 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @12:59PM (#32537546)

    but a black hole the mass of a galactic cluster actually has a very low average density. So while at the event horizon space-time is very much distorted, on the inside it may not be distorted enough to overcome common everyday forces (the trick of treating a collection of mass as a point source of force doesnt work from inside that collection of mass)

    Now my brain hurts, could we already be inside an enormous black hole?

  • Re:Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cyber0ne ( 640846 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @01:00PM (#32537580) Homepage
    I'm not an expert on this by any means, but here's my two cents...

    Try not to think of it in terms of light trying to escape in a straight line and just not being strong enough to do it. Instead, think of the straight line as not being straight. Gravity wells curve space-time (a Google Images search for "spacetime" will yield some familiar diagrams of spheres resting on a fabric), and the event horizon of a singulatiry is the point in that curvature where it's so "steep" that it curves back in upon itself. This is difficult to show in the aforementioned diagrams, because it's less about the picture and more about the math behind it.

    Basically, from behind the event horizon it's impossible to escape not because you don't have enough force to get away but because all paths lead back to the singularity.

    If somebody with more knowledge/expertise on the subject can correct/elaborate, please do.

"More software projects have gone awry for lack of calendar time than for all other causes combined." -- Fred Brooks, Jr., _The Mythical Man Month_