December 28, 2013

Scientists fight over what would happen if you fell into a black hole.

Leonard Susskind, a physicist at Stanford, says: "It's kind of like you're rowing on Niagara Falls, and you pass the point [where] you can't row fast enough to escape the current... Well, you're doomed at that point. But passing the point of no return — you wouldn't even notice it."
Now you can't get out. And gravity from the black hole is starting to pull on your feet more than your head. "The gravity wants to sort of stretch you in one direction and squeeze you in another," says Joe Polchinski, a physicist at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He says the technical term for this stretching is spaghettification.
There is, by the way, a technical term for attributing mental processes to things that have no mind, which Polchinski is doing when he says: "The gravity wants to" do something is. It's: the pathetic fallacy. It's not scientific, obviously, but scientists often get colorful and poetic:
"It'd be kind of medieval," says Polchinkski. "It'd be like something on Game of Thrones."
See? Anyway, here's the dispute:
According to the dominant theory of physics — quantum mechanics — information can never disappear from the universe.... This rule is absolutely fundamental. "Everything is built on it," says Susskind. "If it were violated, everything falls apart."...

And Polchinski and his colleagues found one way to keep things from vanishing when they fall inside a black hole — they got rid of the inside....

So in Polchinski's version, when you fall into a black hole, you don't disappear. Instead, you smack into the end of the universe.

"You just come to the end of space, and there's nothing beyond it. Terminated," Susskind says. All the information once contained in your atoms is re-radiated in a quantum mechanical fire.... "I don't think this is true," he says. "In fact, I think almost nobody thinks this is true — that space falls apart inside a black hole."

46 comments:

madAsHell said...

quantum mechanical fire

The Allegory of the Cave!!

Revenant said...

Interesting theory.

Paddy O said...

Speaking of colorful and poetic:

"There is, by the way, a technical term for attributing mental processes to things that have no mind, which Polchinski is doing when he says: "The gravity wants to" do something is. It's: the pathetic fallacy."

grammatico-normativity be: damned!, be grammatico-normativity

betamax3000 said...

This Describes Some Posts' Comments Threads.

betamax3000 said...

Althouse Black Hole Theory:

When you fall into a black hole, you don't disappear. Instead, you smack into the end of the universe. This tends to happen around comment 150.

betamax3000 said...

Althouse Black Hole Theory:

You just come to the end of Reason, and there's nothing beyond it. Terminated. All the information once contained in your Comments is re-radiated in a quantum mechanical fire....

betamax3000 said...



Althouse Black Hole Theory:

Now you can't get out. And gravity from the Commenting black hole is starting to pull on your feet more than your head. "The Comments want to sort of stretch your Arguments in one direction and squeeze Them in another. The technical term for this stretching is spaghettification.

Spaghettification Often Leads to an Appearance of Godwin's Law.

betamax3000 said...

Althouse Black Hole Theory:

According to the dominant theory of Commenting, information can never disappear from the universe.... This rule is absolutely fundamental to Althouse Black Hole Theory. Everything is built on it. If it were violated, everything falls apart...

betamax3000 said...

Betamax3000 is Often a Victim of Althouse Black Hole Theory.

traditionalguy said...

Genesis is the name of a Hyundai, and it is also the book of beginning/creation stories written down by Moses.

And later The Gospel of John explains that, " In the beginning was the word and the word was God. The same was in the beginning with God and all things were made by Him."

Isaac Newton was right. Forces follow mathematical laws or codes. But who wrote the codes?

lemondog said...

Your consciousness/spirit transforms into a different and unknown dimension.

EDH said...

All the information once contained in your atoms is re-radiated in a quantum mechanical fire.

This is a problem I tend to encounter when I try to read "popular" higher physics. Hawking in particular.

The book starts simple enough, almost ridiculously simplistic to set the stage. Then, at light speed, the prose swirls into unexplained theory and jargon.

Any reader who needed the early simplicity just to set the stage will never get the complex jargon, and the simplistic stuff that sets the stage really does nothing to explain the complex jargon.

It's a false accessibility. There needs to be a constant level of explanation throughout the text for the exposition of the theory to be truly accessible.

betamax3000 said...

Thing Goes Bang. Bang Can't UnBang. Bang Gets Bigger. Saws Make Sawdust.

Stephen said...

No need to worry about your information being lost. NSA has a copy.

betamax3000 said...

The Egg Eventually Eats the Omelette.

rhhardin said...

Without looking it up, the pathetic fallacy is sympathy from nature, as when it's a dark day when something terrible happens.

It's not a fallacy, but just a technique.

Gravity wants isn't sympathy. It's more of an invariant in the differential equation, to help intuit what it will do.

Kenneth Burke has a whole book on the pathetic fallacy among other things, A Grammar of Motives, with a dramatistic pentad at the heart, of which the scene is but one element.

englishkanighit said...

And gravity from the black hole is starting to pull on your feet more than your head. "The gravity wants to sort of stretch you in one direction and squeeze you in another,"

I don't understand this. If gravity is pulling on my feet why wouldn't this affect the pull on the rest of my body unless something was pulling my head in the opposite direction?

rhhardin said...

Leonard Susskind (too much sugar in that name) gives insufferable lectures on YouTube, always eating while talking.

I dare you to watch five minutes of one.

Always go elsewhere for physics lectures.

William said...

Womb to tomb. Life is a succession of black holes.

rhhardin said...

It's tidal forces. Your feet are closer to the planet or whatever than your head, so they get pulled on more.

Gravity pointing at the center of the planet means that each side of you gets pulled in a slightly different direction, slightly towards each other in addition to down.

The down part is equal and cancels out but the towards each other pard does not, and squeezes you together.

Hence spaghettification.

rhhardin said...

Reradiation works by virtual particle creation.

Particle pairs can be briefly created out of nothing, and subsequently annihilate each other and disappear, as part of the energy of empty space.

If this happens at the horizon of a black hole, one of the particles may wind up on the life side and the other on the death side before they rejoin and annihilate each other.

In that case the good particle escapes annihilation and manages to carry away a piece of the black hole and its entropy back into the universe at large.

The bad particle falls back to its death.

It improves the universe.

Also evaporates black holes. This may take severeral days. Allow drying time.

jr565 said...

Could you "fall" into a black hole?

Paddy O said...

Short answer: you'd be dead.

Paddy O said...

You will have been dead.

rhhardin said...

There are tiny black holes which evaporate instantly or sooner.

You need several bowling balls worth to get decent fireworks.

Original Mike said...

"Pathetic" fallacy? I've always thought it kind of charming.

Original Mike said...

"There are tiny black holes which evaporate instantly or sooner."

Thus, a particle accelerator can not devour the Earth.

rhhardin said...

As I recall another way of looking at a black hole is that if all your mass were converted to energy, it would not be enough to lift you back out.

Rather than a speed of light problem.

betamax3000 said...

It Turns You Into Existential Man Syrup.

Original Mike said...

"As I recall another way of looking at a black hole is that if all your mass were converted to energy, it would not be enough to lift you back out."

Sounds right. Cool.

betamax3000 said...

If I Were to Comment Under another Name I Might Choose 'Existential Man Syrup.'

Alex said...

Why can't scientist just admit that they have no idea what occurs past the event horizon and leave it at that?

Original Mike said...

"Why can't scientist just admit that they have no idea what occurs past the event horizon and leave it at that?"

Why can't scientists just admit that they have no idea what fire is and leave it at that?

eddie willers said...

Do not anthropomorphize computers.
They hate that.

n.n said...

This is philosophy, not science. It may one day be open to the scientific method, but with the present quality of progress, that day is not forthcoming.

Original Mike said...

"This is philosophy, not science. It may one day be open to the scientific method, but with the present quality of progress, that day is not forthcoming."

I'm a lot more optimistic. We'll never visit the inside of a black hole, but I expect we'll have a theory consistent with both quantum mechanics and gravity.

jr565 said...

rhardin wrote:
There are tiny black holes which evaporate instantly or sooner.


If they evaporate instantly or sooner than instantly, maybe they were never there to begin with.

n.n said...

Gravity is a physical phenomenon, which is described as an a-tom concept. Quantum mechanics is a model which demonstrates good correlation with observed effects. Science is both a philosophy and a process, which by virtue of the scientific method is necessarily constrained to a limited frame of reference.

Unknown said...

Alex: Why can't scientist just admit that they have no idea what occurs past the event horizon and leave it at that?

Because scientific progress is made by coming up with crazy-sounding theories and ways to test them.

Unknown said...

n.n: This is philosophy, not science. It may one day be open to the scientific method, but with the present quality of progress, that day is not forthcoming.

All science is philosophy before the scientific method (generating falsifiable hypotheses, then falsifying them) can be applied. Put another way, no scientific progress ever comes from applying modus ponens.

n.n said...

Unknown:

So, all science is philosophy, but not all philosophy is science. The scientific method has limited application in time and space.

At one time, the atom, or its namesake the a-tom, was a philosophical concept. The latter remains a philosophical concept.

There is a place for both philosophy and science. There is cause to distinguish between them.

Roger Sweeny said...

englishkanighit,

Gravity pulls harder on your feet than your head. That is because your feet are closer to the center of the black hole than your head is. Since there is so much mass in the black hole, your feet are accelerating downward incredibly quickly. The effect on you is the same as if a machine was pulling on your feet while something else was holding your head stationary.

Earth's gravity gets weaker as you get above the surface of the earth. The mass in the earth that is pulling at you gets further away and has less of an effect. A 200 pound man in a plane at 50,000 feet actually weighs about a half a pound less than on earth. By the time you're several million miles above the surface, earth's gravity doesn't have much effect at all.

The moon also pulls on earth. The part closest to the moon is pulled toward it. Rocks can't move much but water can, so you get tides. The water closest to the moon is pulled up. Meanwhile, the water farthest away, on the other side of the earth, is being pulled noticeably less hard and actually bulges out away from the moon. The earth revolves, so about twice a day, each point on earth passes closest to and furthest away from the moon. At these two points there is a high tide.

Revenant said...

This is philosophy, not science. It may one day be open to the scientific method, but with the present quality of progress, that day is not forthcoming.

That's not really true. Even if a theory itself is not directly testable, it can be tested indirectly. That's how the theory of relativity was confirmed, for example.

n.n said...

Revenant:

So, the validity of relativity is inferred, not established. This may prove useful when used as a model, but it does not prove the original claim. Perhaps it should be defined as an axiom, or something less authoritative, to distinguish it from what is derived. The alternative is to continue destroying the sometimes nuanced division between philosophy and science.

Can you imagine if we stopped pursuing the a-tom with the discovery of the atom. We should be careful to set the scope when establishing new paradigms.

n.n said...

Roger Sweeny:

The physical separation between your feet and head affects a negligible differential in forces. The absolute effect of gravity on your feet and head are nearly indistinguishable. They are both subject to an acceleration directed toward the source of gravity. However, the outcome varies due to intermediate forces. There is a relative difference due to their particular framing. For the head, there is a force exerted by your skeleton, which is directed opposite to gravitational force when standing. In other orientations, there are muscles to mitigate the force exerted by gravity. When lying down, the role of the skeleton and muscles are assumed by a substrate (e.g. pillow). Throughout, there are atomic and subatomic forces which act as positive and negative reinforcements.

zefal said...

englishkanighit,

Warning! An extreme layman's understanding/explanation.


If you were 6 feet tall and you were sliced into 6 equal parts, head to toe, and you were placed feet first above the moon and someone threw a switch and turned on the moon's gravity all your sections would start to be pulled towards the surface at slightly different rates, due to the fact that each section that was closer was in a slightly higher gravity field, so by the time the first section hit the surface the section behind it now had a 1 inch gap between the two sections. Now if you hadn't been cut up into sections each section would have just tugged each "section" along with it.

This isn't so when you're in an extreme gravity field by the time your feet(what's left of them) touched the surface of the black hole your head(ditto) would still be a mile away. It might only be 1 billionth of a nanosecond before your head touches down on the black hole too. So time wise not much difference when the two hit but distance wise big difference whether you were cut up into sections or not.

Same warning as above but different analogy.

If you had two marbles, in a conventional funnel, that were positioned vertically to one another, and then were released, they would fall down the funnel at the same rate and there would be no separation between the two. But if the funnel became steeper as it got closer to the center the marble in front would start to accelerate faster so the marble in front would pull away. If the two marbles were magnetic they would stay together until the funnel became steep enough where that attraction wasn't enough to keep them attached and the marble in front would start to separate, I think!

Do not use this in a school paper unless you want an "F" or lesser!