The Black Hole

I don’t know why, but I was fascinated by the prospect of seeing the first photos of the black hole Wednesday (April 10). I started watching the live press conference. As the picture flashed on the screen, my initial reaction was, “Is that all there is?”

I mean, come on, it’s a circle with a little splash of yellow and orange, and a big black hole in the middle. I could have drawn that in kindergarten {okay, the circle might not have been round and the yellow and black might have stretched outside the lines}.

I don’t know what I was expecting. I really don’t. Perhaps it was the computer-generated models I had seen before. Those at least seemed to have some spatial aspects to them … sort of like the middle of a toilet as the water flushes.

I was impressed with the science. Using the Event Horizon Telescope, it was a network of eight radio observatories, atomic clocks and computers specifically located around the world, all timed to “click” at precisely the same time over a 10-day period in April. Five petabytes of data, equivalent to “all of the selfies that 40,000 people will take in their lifetime,” according to Dan Marrone, and 65 hours of data were collected, correlated, collated, dissected and digitized to come up with the shadowy image of its event horizon. That boundary defines where the normal universe ends and the unknowable begins. Anything that crosses the event horizon, be it a photon, atomic particle or astronaut, is forever lost to the known universe. Because of a black hole’s intense gravity, you can’t capture an image of the actual black hole, but light near the black hole’s “point of no return.”

We can thank Albert Einstein for introducing us to the concept of a black hole. His relativity equations predicted the inevitable existence of black holes in 1915, although he didn’t initially believe such objects could be real. But in 1916, German astronomer Karl Schwarzschild calculated an exact solution to Einstein’s equations that showed how black holes could form.  Princeton physicist John Wheeler was first credited with using the term black hole in 1967.

A little over 100 years later, here we are.

The other thing that struck me while watching the press conference is how “normal” these scientists look. I mean, you have this mental image of a wild-haired Einstein or a mad scientist in a while lab coat tinkering with out of this world gizmos and gadgets. Instead, the parade of speakers looked … well … normal, like the guy next door or girl next door. They were young, energetic and speaking in everyday language about a topic very few people understand. It was refreshing!

Of course, science notwithstanding, all they had to do was take a picture of my desk — especially during my working days. There were many black holes discovered there over the years. Anything that crossed those horizons — be it a photo, article or letter — was forever lost to the known universe. Come to think about it, I  haven’t heard from my youngest son in awhile.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Life’s treasures are people … together.

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About wisdomfromafather

I'm just an ordinary guy walking along the journey of life.
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8 Responses to The Black Hole

  1. Onisha Ellis says:

    i felt the same way about the picture. I had some crazy notion we could see into the black hole.

  2. I felt the exact same way. I love astronomy and everything space related so I was very excited for the black hole pictures but When I saw it I was like ok where’s the rest!
    It’s so sad to think that 100 years after the first discussions about black holes, we have only gotten so far as to get an image. I mean at the rate Science was progressing during Einstein’s era, We should all be having flying cars and our own spaceship’s now! Or at least that’s what I thought 2020 would be like.

  3. Jim Matthews says:

    Fool me once , fool me twice.

    Those Dr’s they put up are a front just like politicians all made up to look real.
    I beg to differ, you may have been wearing rose colored glasses.

    Jim

    wisdomfromafather posted: “I don’t know why, but I was fascinated by the prospect of seeing the first photos of the black hole Wednesday (April 10). I started watching the live press conference. As the picture flashed on the screen, my initial reaction was, “Is that all there is?” “

  4. Bruce R. Matthew says:

    A black hole is the result of a massive star that has collapsed in on itself. The gravity is so powerful that even light cannot escape from the black hole. We can’t “see” a black hole, but we can see the material around the black hole being pulled into the black hole.

    Black holes perform a function. At the center of every galaxy, there is a super massive black hole. This creates the gravity that holds the galaxy together. The universe is an amazing place. It’s estimated that there are 200 billion galaxies in the universe. In the Milky Way galaxy, there are around 200 billion stars, and countless planets.

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