R2's Day:The Myth of "Settled Science", Part One: The Black Hole

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I have a problem with the concept that science is ever settled.  If we aren't constantly questioning what has gone before, we aren't doing science, we're doing dogma.  And when the scientific establishment gets dogmatic and ossified, it tends to really, really annoy people.

Like 'Global Warming'.  We'll talk a bit about it next week, but suffice it to say that scientists are not making their job any easier by declaring something as 'settled science' when there are other (rather obvious) issues with their theories.

This week: Black Holes.

As much as I love me a good SF story featuring Black Holes, the concept of space-time looking somewhat like Swiss Cheese always bothered me.  A region of space-time so dense that even light can escape does capture the imagination (and doesn't let go...)- but according to the man who did some amazing stuff with the math involved, they don't exist- at least not the way we think they do.

Because black holes 'squeeze' normal matter into quantum sizes, we actually have to bring quantum physics into the mix.  However, if we do, suddenly the event horizon of a black hole goes from being an inescapable trap to being a really nasty place...  “surrounded by firewalls, bolts of outgoing radiation that would destroy any infalling observer.”

This is because, according to a fundamental theory of quantum physics, no information can ever disappear.

(Okay. Admit it, though.. that would make a nifty special effect in the next Trek movie...)

The solution is that black holes eventually do let go of the mass that falls into it... eventually.   It's scrambled and very, very delayed... but it does get to leave.

If, indeed, black holes are allowed to form in the first place-

Dr. Laura Mersini-Houghton at the University of North Carolina has written a paper that mathematically proves that black holes can never actually form.  Her theory (simplified) is that as a star collapses under it's own gravity, it produces Hawking radiation.  It actually puts out so much radiation that it also loses mass.  As it diminishes, it no longer has the density to become a black hole... Her paper still lacks peer review, but if the math is good-- we need to reexamine the 'Big Bang' itself.  If the formation of a singularity is impossible, how can the universe have been formed by the explosion of one?

Paging Dr. Reinhart and Maximillian....