Scientist sees deep meaning in black holes after Event Horizon Telescope’s triumph

M87 black hole
This view of the M87 supermassive black hole in polarized light highlights the signature of magnetic fields. (Credit: EHT Collaboration)

Why are black holes so alluring?

You could cite plenty of reasons: They’re matter-gobbling monsters, making them the perfect plot device for a Disney movie. They warp spacetime, demonstrating weird implications of general relativity. They’re so massive that inside a boundary known as the event horizon, nothing — not even light — can escape its gravitational grip.

But perhaps the most intriguing feature of black holes is their sheer mystery. Because of the rules of relativity, no one can report what happens inside the boundaries of a black hole.

“We could experience all the crazy stuff that’s going on inside a black hole, but we’d never be able to tell anybody,” radio astronomer Heino Falcke said. “We want to know what’s going on there, but we can’t.”

Falcke and his colleagues in the international Event Horizon Telescope project lifted the veil just a bit two years ago when they released the first picture ever taken of a supermassive black hole’s shadow. But the enduring mystery is a major theme in Falcke’s new book about the EHT quest, “Light in the Darkness: Black Holes, the Universe, and Us” — and in the latest installment of the Fiction Science podcast, which focuses on the intersection of fact and science fiction.

Continue reading “Scientist sees deep meaning in black holes after Event Horizon Telescope’s triumph”

TV Viewing Alert: New Mini-Series: Fabric of the Cosmos

A new 4-part mini-series debuts tonight on PBS station in the US, featuring theoretical physicist Brian Greene. The series is called “Fabric of the Cosmos” and is based on Greene’s 2004 book of the same name. It premieres tonight (Nov. 2, 2011) on NOVA, with subsequent episodes airing November 9, 16 and 23. The series will probe the most extreme realms of the cosmos, from black holes to dark matter, to time bending and parallel realities.

Check your local listings for time.

Last Minute TV Viewing Alert: Finding Life Beyond Earth

A new NOVA show airs tonight (October 19) in the US on public television, called “Finding Life Beyond Earth.” It includes interviews with many big names in planetary science and like any NOVA show, should be excellent. PBS has a great website that goes along with the show, and for those of you that don’t live in the US or get a public television station, PBS usually posts the videos of NOVA shows online later. Above is a trailer for the show. Check your local listings for when it will air; if you miss it first time around, local stations will sometimes re-air the show during the middle of the night!