Update from New York!

September 2, 2010

So, for those of you not in the know, I’ve been gallivanting about New York City the past few days.  Thus far, I have concluded that the city is dirty, the drivers are jerks, the food is amazing, and the boys are cute… ahem.  Also, there is no sales tax on clothing, and a good number of museums and shows.  I think I could get used to this.

Artist's depiction of a black hole

I was in the Museum of Natural History the other day, when I stumbled upon the astronomy exhibit.  Everything was going fine, until I saw a short film on black holes and flew into a tremendous nerd rage.  The sentence that ignited this flurry of scientific fervor?  “If you went inside a black hole, you would see nothing.”  Argh!  While this could be true, it’s a mis-statement, really.  If you observe a black hole from Earth (or anywhere else outside the black hole), you see nothing emitted.  Everything that crosses the event horizon of a black hole, be it matter, radiation, etc. will not be able to return.  Since our observation techniques all require some form of emitted radiation for us to see, black holes appear, exactly as their name implies, black.  However, inside a black hole, it’s another game entirely.  Think about all the matter, all the light, that the black hole has absorbed.  There isn’t emptiness in a black hole, there is a good deal of matter being compressed to infinite density and light being shifted to shorter wavelengths (and thus infinite energy).  So, there would probably be a great deal of light produced, but it would only be visible to our eyes for a very short period of time.  However, all this light being produced will never be able to cross back over the event horizon and be seen by an outside observer.

Long story short, don’t see a kiddie science exhibit of something you’ve studied in-depth before.  Moreover, don’t bring your child to a kiddie science exhibit when there’s an infuriated scientist on the loose.  Whoops.  Well, we all have our moments, right?

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4 Responses to “Update from New York!”

  1. writerdood said

    Maybe if you go face-first, facing the singularity, you wouldn’t see much. For the best viewing opportunity, go in backwards. Then, as time slows to a crawl and you’re stretched into spaghetti, you’ll be able to watch the universe moving in fast forward (or so it has been proposed). Not sure if this would actually work, frankly, but it’s a fun idea.

    • Yes, that’s one way to do it. The one thing I worry about is how long the light will actually remain in the visible spectrum. Granted, you’ll only be alive for something like 10^-6 seconds, so it’s probably a non-issue anyway. Even then, it’s not like you’d be able to transmit a video or something to someone on Earth (provided you could make such a camera) since you wouldn’t be able to get a signal to leave the black hole. Might as well enjoy it while it lasts, I guess.

  2. Posky said

    I am sorry that the video lied to you BUT how cool was it to touch that hunk of meteor?!

    Are you enjoying the city for the most part? I dig it quite a bit myself and after having been a regular visiter, it’s well past time for me to move there.

    • Cassie said

      You’re right, the meteor was pretty awesome. It’s sort of awe-inspiring to think that that chunk of rock used to be floating around in space. Plus, the video wasn’t entirely inaccurate, so I guess I shouldn’t complain too much.

      Well, I’m back on the west coast now, but I must say that I like the city in general; there’s quite a lot to do and while I was there I was never bored. I plan to start visiting New York quite a bit more, but I don’t plan on moving out there any time soon. I like the west coast far too much. =)

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