Science

Black Holes and Worm Holes – What You Need to Know

March 2, 2017
Worm Holes and Black Holes

This picture is the perfect representation of a day in the life of me. This is an illustration done by my 7 ½ year old.

Black Holes and Worm Holes drawing

I know very little about worm holes and black holes, which led to awkward silence on my end when I received the picture.  The universe keeps many secrets from me and these holes are two of them.  Heaven forbid I should find myself inside of one of them, as I am pretty sure there are no lighted exit signs.

Don’t worry – it’s not possible to fall into one. At least, I don’t think that is possible.  Here on Earth.

Yet.

There is a black hole at the center of our galaxy, the Milky Way.  More specifically a supermassive black hole. There is one at the center of every galaxy.

Either way, quicksand is probably a more-valid fear, but falling into it is not so valid a fear either.  My quick study on the latter indicates that if you do stumble upon and stumble into quicksand you won’t sink all the way in anyway, as humans aren’t dense enough. Phew!  I guess you can’t believe what you see in the movies.

And, because I am a helper I won’t leave you hanging (or almost sunken) should you step into some.  All you have to do is wriggle your legs around, as this will create space between your legs and the quicksand.  The water can then flow down to loosen the sand.  Write to me if I save your life in the future with that nugget. 😉

Just like Pearl Harbor facts, which got me into this in the first place (you can read about that here), I don’t know nearly enough about a topic that has been surfaced by one of my children.  As a result, I cannot guide my child through his space exploration and further his knowledge of black holes and worm holes.  I feel incompetent.

Don’t think for a second you don’t need to know about such things, because you do.

Don’t be caught empty-minded like me.  Read my virgin overview below and arm yourself.  Just in case.

Black Holes, Worm Holes & Astrophysics

First of all, the drawing done by my son, is pretty spot-on.  Before I get into that here are a few foundational facts that make me, lover of the sky, look on with more trepidation than before:

We only see about one-sixth of the mass of the universe, which is known as bright matter (stars, planets, gas, dust, galaxies, meteors, etc.).  According to scientists the remaining 95% or so that is unseen is made of dark matter – called such because it does not emit radiation.  It does have gravity though and appears to be holding together the parts of the universe we can see (galaxies in particular).

Night Sky and Dark Matter - Black Holes

A black hole forms when a large, dying star collapses.  The resulting gravity overpowers outward forces.  It sucks gas and dust toward itself forming a whirling accretion disk (diffused material) around the hole.  Nothing passing within a certain distance can escape, not even light (just as I thought – no lighted exit signs.  I knew more than I thought). That disk heats any matter that crosses it emitting x-rays.

A black hole is real.

A worm hole is another story.  To many, the idea of it is highly speculative.

Wormholes are theoretical possibilities within the framework of Einstein’s general theory of relativity.  A wormhole is a short-lived portal, lasting only a brief moment, that joins two black holes in different locations.  They could connect two points in the present day universe or perhaps in different times.

Does anyone remember the television show The Land of the Lost (LOTL)?!  A little different, but still!

Matter falling into a black hole at one point should emerge through a proposed “white hole” at the other end. Or, at the bottom of a 1,000 foot waterfall.  Ahem. (LOTL reference).

It might be faux pas but let’s look at that sketch again:

Worm Hole and Black Holes

Here is the kicker – no evidence of wormholes has been observed and scientists have been unable to determine how they would be created.  Stephen Hawking, who holds the chair in mathematics at Cambridge University, continues to work through the prospect of worm holes and seeks a unified theory able to reconcile Einstein’s general theory of relativity and quantum theory.

Do you see what I meant in my Guitar Stars post when I said perhaps we could solve more problems if we just looked to the night sky?  Well, there you have it.  The sky is the limit, literally.

Perhaps one of our children will unlock the code to worm holes, or better yet – something no one else has thought of yet.

Journey on and be ready!

xo the mamabrain at mamabrains

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