While visiting NYC’s Hayden Planetarium some years ago, I suffered a bout of existential despair after learning that black holes were supposed to be “points of infinite density.”
“That’s just not possible,” I exclaimed.
“Actually,” my brother-in-law responded, “I know a lot of people like that.”
I was reminded of that exchange on reading the following bit of news from the wacky world of astrophysics:
We could be living inside a black hole. This head-spinning idea is one cosmologist’s conclusion based on a modification of Einstein’s equations of general relativity that changes our picture of what happens at the core of a black hole.
Einstein believed black holes were “singularities” – and, to his credit, wrote them off as mathematical anomalies rather than real-world monstrosities. According to Nikodem Poplawski – who undermines his awesome scientific name by working at plain old Indiana U. – black holes aren’t singularities or anomalies at all. They’re regular guys. You can live with one and still lead a productive life.
If true, this would explain a lot – most importantly, the way I feel when I wake up in the morning. But other stuff too. Why is God so silent? Why do women wear either flip-flops or four-inch heels?
Because we live in a black hole.
On the other hand, I can’t help but feel that this is too easy an answer – the kind of theory scientists come up with to be trendy and become popular with women. After all, much of our politics and all Hollywood movies practically beg us to embrace infinite density. Maybe accidental exposure to a Joe Biden speech or the matinee of “Eat Pray Love” left Nikodem Poplawski thinking, “The hell with singularities – I’m gonna go with the flow…”
Not to worry. The great thing about scientists is that, with absolute mathematical certainty, they keep picking up the universe out of one bucket and dropping it into another. Newton put us in the billiard-ball bucket, then quantum moved us to the probabilistic bucket, now multi-universe, string-theory physics has plopped us down in the Marvel Comics bucket.
Yesterday we mocked black holes, calling them singularities – today, we love them and call them home. Tomorrow? Well, the possibilities are literally endless, but by far the coolest, in my humble opinion, is that of the spiky world: a punk universe in which black holes are adorned with piercings and the music of the stars is emo.
It’s coming. Get ready.