Black holes

“Black holes do not exist” says Stephen Hawking. Um, Bachmann2011no…

Super-massive objects exist at the centre of galaxies. I understand we can observe the orbits of stars around them, and calculate the mass of the body from the speed of the objects orbiting it. Further, I understand that observation of stars at the centre of the galaxy has only been accurate enough to permit this, this century. Hawking does not deny their existence, but argues that they could be described or explained better.

As an object approaches a star or planet, the escape velocity it needs to escape that star’s gravity increases. There is postulated a region a specific distance from a black hole at which the escape velocity reaches the speed of light. So, at that “event horizon” all the electromagnetic radiation emerging from an object falling in would stay, not escaping or falling inwards. That is, at the event horizon there is a record of every object which has ever fallen in to the black hole. This is the “information preservation” referred to in the title of Professor Hawking’s paper, ‘Information preservation and weather forecasting for black holes.

Quantum theory enables energy and information to escape from a black hole he says. “Grey holes” “only contain matter and light temporarily”.

OK. That bit on Information preservation I got from Horizon or Prospect or somewhere, the rest comes from Cambridge News. Al Arabiya reported that the theory of black holes was inconsistent with general relativity and quantum theory, and desperately wanted me to click on its story “Is the NSA using Angry Birds to spy on you?”

Michele BachmannThe Independent quoted Don Page: You could say that it is radical to propose there’s no event horizon. But these are highly quantum conditions, and there’s ambiguity about what space-time even is, let alone whether there is a definite region that can be marked as an event horizon.

So, the newspapers attempt to make their readers understand. Michele Bachmann was quick to weigh in: Actually, Dr. Hawking, our biggest blunder as a society was ever listening to people like you. If black holes don’t exist, then other things you scientists have been trying to foist on us probably don’t either, like climate change and evolution.

Oh, wait. The tag line on that page- “The news, reshuffled” and the grinning cartoon of the author indicates it is satire. However, it was believed enough that Ms Bachmann’s spokesman had to deny them. It sounds just like the crazy shit Michele Bachmann might say. Some people prosily refuted it, as I did commenting here. In fact I started this post with that intention.

But even Professor Hawking cannot reconcile General Relativity, Quantum theory and, er, what was the other one, so what is the hope for the rest of us? Perhaps “Michele Bachmann” is right!

If she had said that, and I prosily refuted it, the other thing I was going to say is that I am inconsistent. I hold views which cannot be reconciled. I see through a glass darkly, and approach the truth: my best insights have flaws. “Michele Bachmann strives for false consistency, so cannot see the truth!” I would have ranted.

17 thoughts on “Black holes

    • Grayson Perry in “in the best possible taste” remarked that working class Englishwomen made up for the colours to be visible and glossy, middle class Englishwomen made up so as not to look as if wearing makeup. I think the nails are horrible, though people wear them and my local town has one nail bar headlined American nails. I think the publicity shot ill-judged. She looks nervous.

      But I wear a pendant with earrings.


    • Interesting combination of American and British spelling there for jewellery. Anyway, I shall take note of your comment about pearls should I ever choose to wear the ones I inherited from my mother, which are very nice and understated as I chose them in the first place for her 30th wed ann. In fact as I’ve less than 18 months to go to my pearl wed perhaps I should start wearing them. The nails are vile.


      • Well, I did choose to illustrate my post with pictures of Ms Bachmann, even though it only touches on her. The pictures are part of the post, and often have a stronger emotional impact than the words. Arguably, pearls need no other jewellery, so their impact is lessened by it.


    • Tim, I really don’t understand your comment. Is it so wildly Libertarian? Government is needed to organise armies to defend your nation, as in your war with Japan. I feel Government in this country, with a national health service, provides health far far better than your insurance market does.


      • Of course government is essential, but our government is far from perfect and our representatives are constantly writing and passing bills in an ettempt to fix and make our government better. A government that Michelle Bachman (who I am NOT a fan of) is a member of. I understand that science and government are very different but she’s far far from perfect and science isn’t either. If, under her logic, we can’t trust science then she should also say we can’t trust her either.


        • Ah, that’s interesting. In BrE, “Government” means not even the Executive branch, but the elected part of it: the cabinet and junior ministers, all of whom are members of the legislature. Mmm. “Government” including the judicial branch. I would say that in the US sense, the Government is a focus of the national conversation, and Michele Bachmann’s purpose is to say wrong things so we may see more clearly that they are wrong. (She did not utter the quote here, but she did call global warming “voodoo, nonsense, hokum, a hoax”.)

          Oh! Trust!


      • You know those falling items are designed to hypnotise you to control your mind and this way the goverment can turn you into ‘Jason Bourne’ figure and you can become an assassin for hire by the UK government. This will do two things, get rid of despots around the world and the money Cameron charges will help bring down the UK debt. Have you noticed since Candy Crush came on the market the British economy has got better. See I told you it was true, it all fits.


    • “This administration’s foreign policy blunders… have contributed into turning the Middle East into a devastating, evil jihadist earthquake”.

      I went to her own website for her idiocies, as she did not say this thing: but it is mostly anodyne after she is not going to stand for Congress again. She will continue to “campaign for traditional marriage”- her heart is in the wrong place- but fruitcakery is more difficult to find. Here she is on Facebook:

      Recently, while I was working in the flower beds in the front yard, my neighbors stopped to chat as they returned home from walking their dog.

      During our friendly conversation, I asked their 12 year old daughter what she wanted to be when she grows up. She said she wanted to be President someday.

      Both of her parents – liberal Democrats – were standing there, so I asked her, “If you were President what would be the first thing you would do?”

      She replied, “I’d give food and houses to all the homeless people.”

      Her parents beamed with pride!

      “Wow…what a worthy goal!” I said. “But you don’t have to wait until you’re President to do that!” I told her.

      “What do you mean?” she replied.

      So I told her, “You can come over to my house and mow the lawn, pull weeds, and trim my hedge, and I’ll pay you $50. Then you can go over to the grocery store where the homeless guy hangs out, and you can give him the $50 to use toward food and a new house.”

      She thought that over for a few seconds, then she looked me straight in the eye and asked, “Why doesn’t the homeless guy come over and do the work, and you can just pay him the $50?”

      I said, “Welcome to the Republican Party.”

      Her parents aren’t speaking to me.

      Okaaay- she beat a twelve year old in argument, and she’s boasting about it?


      • Why didn’t the 12 year old ask her to give the man the $50 anyway? Would that be a reasonable wage anyway? And how would that affect any benefits he was on? (No, they don’t have those in America). Sorry, I’m commenting too much on your comments and not the content, but tbh the words Michelle Bachman tend to make me switch off anyway. And isn’t there a restriction on the amount of hours 12 year olds can work? Plus should they be mowing lawns and trimming hedges? OK, I’ll shut up.


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