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Astronomy: Get Started

Guide to resources and research in the area of Astronomy.

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Don’t Look At Black Holes Too Closely, They Might Disappear

artist's impression of supermassive black hole

An artist’s impression of a supermassive black hole. Black holes are rife with paradoxes, but a new theory suggests that they can all be resolved by agreeing that space and time break down at very small scales. Image credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser

We’ve come a long way in 13.8 billion years; but despite our impressively extensive understanding of the Universe, there are still a few strings left untied. For one, there is the oft-cited disconnect between general relativity, the physics of the very large, and quantum mechanics, the physics of the very small. Then there is problematic fate of a particle’s intrinsic information after it falls into a black hole. Now, a new interpretation of fundamental physics attempts to solve both of these conundrums by making a daring claim: at certain scales, space and time simply do not exist.

Let’s start with something that is not in question. Thanks to Einstein’s theory of special relativity, we can all agree that the speed of light is constant for all observers. We can also agree that, if you’re not a photon, approaching light speed comes with some pretty funky rules – namely, anyone watching you will see your length compress and your watch slow down. [read more...]

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