Skip to Content
Uncategorized

A black hole with a view

Physicists have calculated what the universe would look like from inside a black hole, and not just for fun


Ever wondered what it’s like to fall into a black hole? Wonder no more! Andrew Hamilton at JILA at the University of Colorado and a pal, Gavin Polhemus, have created a video showing what it might look like (10MB .avi). And it’s an impressive peice of work.

Hamilton provides a commentary for this and other videos which dismisses some of the myths that have grown up around black holes, such as the notion that falling inside one would engulf you in darkness.

Not by any means. According to Hamilton and Polhemus, inside a black hole the view in the horizontal plane is highly blueshifted, but all directions other than horizontal appear highly redshifted.

The work is not just for fun. In fact, calculating what the universe looks like from inside a black hole is an important exercise because it forces physicists to examine how the laws of physics behave at breaking point.

Take the principle of locality, which seems to be severely tested inside a black hole. This is the idea that a point in space can only be influenced by its immediate surroundings. But when space is infinitely stretched, as physicists think it is at the heart of a black hole, the concept of “immediate surroundings” doesn’t make sense. So the concept of locality begins to lose its meaning too.

And that provides an interesting “thought laboratory” in which physicists can ask how ideas such as quantum mechanics and relativity might break down

It also throws up some entertaining corollaries. For example, space is so heavily curved inside a black hole that ordinary binocular vision would be no good for determining distances, says Hamilton.

But trinocular vision could the trick instead, he adds.

Ref: arxiv.org/abs/0903.4717: The Edge of Locality: Visualizing a Black Hole from the Inside



Keep Reading

Most Popular

individual aging affects covid outcomes concept
individual aging affects covid outcomes concept

Anti-aging drugs are being tested as a way to treat covid

Drugs that rejuvenate our immune systems and make us biologically younger could help protect us from the disease’s worst effects.

Europe's AI Act concept
Europe's AI Act concept

A quick guide to the most important AI law you’ve never heard of

The European Union is planning new legislation aimed at curbing the worst harms associated with artificial intelligence.

Uber Autonomous Vehicles parked in a lot
Uber Autonomous Vehicles parked in a lot

It will soon be easy for self-driving cars to hide in plain sight. We shouldn’t let them.

If they ever hit our roads for real, other drivers need to know exactly what they are.

crypto winter concept
crypto winter concept

Crypto is weathering a bitter storm. Some still hold on for dear life.

When a cryptocurrency’s value is theoretical, what happens if people quit believing?

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.