Monday, June 20, 2011

Big bangs inside black holes?

There is an interesting profile in the June 2011 issue of Discover about British physicist Andrew Hamilton, at the University of Colrado in Boulder (U.S.A) who is studying the literally impossible question of what happens inside a black hole. The general assumption is that something falls into a black hole -- the last glimpse we have of that thing is at the event boundary, the curved end at the top end of the vase as it were -- it just disappears and it cannot be retrieved. But it is true that all this matter -- stars, and sometimes even galaxies -- when it falls into a black hole must be undergoing something while inside a black hole. What Hamilton is trying to do is work out the Einsteinian equations of general relativity as to what could be happening inside. The general relativity equations are about the state of affairs at the macro level of the universe. Hamilton's assumption seems to be that the interior of the black hole is to be treated as a universe in itself operating at the macro level.

Hamilton believes that at the extreme point of collapse due to near-infinite intensity of gravity must also be the point when things must be breaking up and breaking out as well. That is why, he thinks it is possible that the big bang that is supposed to mark the beginning of the universe could be something that could be happening inside a black hole.

Roger Penrose, the British cosmologist, has recently proposed the idea that a new beginning of the universe is made from the end-point of an older universe. The idea that the time is a straight line and that there is an absolute beginning and an absolute end, that the Big Bang is the starting point and the Big Crunch or the Big Collapse is where the straight line ends is outdated now. It seems to belong to the old-fashioned Euclidean geometric world of straight lines, and Newtonian force of gravity seems to work on the same lines. But it was Einstein who argued through equations that straight lines bend because of gravity. So he replaced the rectilinear propagation of light which said that light travels in straight lines.

Hamilton's idea that a black hole is the womb of the Big Bang should make everyone who cannot understand the complicated and bewildering mathematics involved in the actual proof of the issue should find it exciting.

Science has been changing a lot. There are neither immutable concepts and perhaps not even immutable laws!

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