Fall Into Black Hole Video

A video showing what happens if you fall into a black hole has been created by researchers Andrew Hamilton and Gavin Polhemus of the University of Colorado. If you fell into a black hole, what would it look like? Could you see beyond the event horizon? Take a look inside a black hole.

(Video shows inside of black hole)

Obviously, this is a CGI realization of the work done in predicting the characteristics of spacetime inside the event horizon of a Schwarzchild black hole. Sorry, nobody's sent in a camera! Here's an excerpt from the paper backing the simulation.

The view as the observer approaches the central singularity is of particular interest because, according to ideas arising from “observer complementarity,” points in opposite directions along the observer’s past light cone are at “the edge of locality,” where standard flat-space quantum-field-theory commutation rules may beat the brink of failure. Near the singularity, the observer’s view is aberrated by the diverging tidal force into a horizontal plane. The view in the horizontal plane is highly blue shifted, but all directions other than horizontal appear highly red shifted. We argue that the affine distance provides a canonical measure of distance along a light ray from emitter to observer. Since the affine distance is not directly measurable by the observer, we also consider perceptual distances, and argue that the trinocular distance (binocular distance is inadequate) provides an estimate of affine distance that would allow tree-leaping apes to survive in highly curved spacetime.

Considerately, the authors provide us with a nice sketch of the three-eyed inhabitants of a highly curved spacetime.

(Black Hole inhabitant with trinocular vision [pdf])

One must assume that acute inhabitants [shown above] of highly curved spacetime would evolve three eyes, trinocular vision, to process the ellipsoidal wavefront into a best distance, one that allows them to leap from tree to tree with the least incidence of death.

...the mean of the reciprocal polar and azimuthal binocular distances agrees well with the affine distance even well off-axis where the wavefront is quite non-spherical. This suggests that a good strategy for the brains of three-eyed apes would be to infer a distance from the mean of the reciprocal binocular distances, that is, from the trace of the wavefront curvature matrix.

Can you see outside a black hole?

“When an observer outside the horizon observes the horizon of a black hole,” the researchers say, “they are actually observing the outgoing horizon. When they subsequently fall through the horizon, they do not fall through the horizon they were looking at, the outgoing horizon; rather, they fall through the ingoing horizon, which was invisible to them until they actually passed through it. Once inside the horizon, the in-faller sees both outgoing and ingoing horizons.”

One good sf reference for this situation (falling into a black hole) comes from the Farscape series. John Crichton is an IASA astronaut working on an experimental project dubbed "Farscape". During a test flight above Earth's orbit, a wormhole suddenly appears, hurling John to a distant part of the universe.

(Falling into a wormhole)

What's your favorite falling into a black hole scenario?

I particularly enjoyed this video; for the past two Saturdays, I've been treated to Saturday Morning Physics lectures at the University of Michigan campus on the subject of black holes. Professor Doug Richstone, Lawrence H. Aller Professor of Astronomy, presented an excellent talk on Supermassive Black Holes and the Evolution of Galaxies. Professor Marta Volonteri contributed a fascinating talk on Black Holes Along Cosmic Time.

From MIT's Technology Review; see also the paper The edge of locality: visualizing a black hole from the inside [pdf]. Also, take a look at the resources at this University of Colorado site Journey into a Schwarzschild black hole for more details and extra videos. Thanks to Moira for the tip and reference.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 4/2/2009)

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