Unraveling Reality {3}

Black Holes

“The black holes of Nature are the most perfect macroscopic objects there are in the universe: the only elements in their construction are our concepts of space and time.” ~ Indian astrophysicist Subramanyan Chandrasekhar

A black hole is a singularity of infinite mass and gravity. Swimming near the speed of light around a black hole are celestial objects that are either pulled in and obliterated, or flung out into space to become part of a quasar, which is an intense, interstellar light show par excellence. Anything that gets past a black hole’s event horizon has passed the point of no return.

That an object might possess so much gravity that light could not escape it first occurred to English geologist John Michell in 1783. This idea then came to French astronomer Pierre-Simon Laplace in 1796, who produced a mathematical justification for his speculation.

German physicist Karl Schwarzschild mathematically conjured black holes in 1915; the same year Einstein introduced general relativity, which geometrically described space and time as a unified platform for existence. In sussing spacetime, Einstein deciphered how gravity works: as an entropic distortion of spacetime itself, rather than an active force emanating from matter, as Newtonian physics had it.

Einstein was pleasantly surprised to learn of Schwarzschild’s exact solutions for general relativity’s field equations. He was less pleased with black holes lurking in the background; dismissing them as merely a mathematical construct. Einstein did not think that black holes could actually form.

Following Einstein’s lead, mainstream physicists disregarded all evidence of black holes for decades. Only a minority maintained that black holes were possible. It was not until the close of the 1960s that the common consensus of astrophysicists turned toward accepting the existence of black holes.

In relativistic terms, a black hole is outside spacetime. It is a nothingness without dimension, a perfectly spherical hole in the universe. That does not mean that black holes are just infinite advertisements for immateriality, though they are that indeed.

“What is not makes what is useful.” ~ Lao Tzu

Black holes are a crucial nothingness that arranges everything that is. The construction of the cosmos, from its early evolution, was steered by black holes. Their gravitational entropy formed the mooring around which galaxies formed.

Even now, galactic dynamics are fundamentally shaped by black holes coursing through the cosmos. A black hole crisply collapses spacetime as it goes, only to have spacetime spring back upon a black hole’s departure. To say that the transition is enigmatic would be an understatement.

Black holes may form when large stars collapse after a supernova explosion. But black holes existed before there was any light, let alone stars. Black holes are primordial. It is not understood how that could be.

The cosmos is presently peppered with black holes of all sizes. Some are no larger than a Planck pinhead – just larger than the smallest possible quantum. Others are swollen to 50 billion times the mass of the Sun.

While the presence of black holes is doubtless, how singularities of infinity can exist is inscrutable.

“We do not understand how the universe works at a deeper and more profound level than most of us care to admit.” ~ American astrophysicist Stacy McGaugh

The universe is a ceaseless gyre. As with all that is, the black holes of nothingness are constantly on the move. The motion is more than mere cosmic expansion: it is the dance of existence.

“How extraordinary that anything should exist.” ~ Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein