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The Nature of Reality

Stephen Hawking Serves Up Scrambled Black Holes

4 Feb 2014, 16:15 UTC
Stephen Hawking Serves Up Scrambled Black Holes
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Toast or spaghetti? That’s the question that physicists have been trying to answer for the last year and a half. After agreeing for decades that anything—or... Read Full Post

Toast or spaghetti?
That’s the question that physicists have been trying to answer for the last year and a half. After agreeing for decades that anything—or anyone—unlucky enough to fall into a black hole would be ripped and stretched into spaghetti-like strands by the overwhelming gravity, theorists are now contending with the possibility that infalling matter is instead incinerated by a “toasty” wall of fire at the black hole’s horizon. Now, Stephen Hawking has proposed a radical solution: nixing one of the most infamous characteristics of a black hole, its event horizon, or point of no return.

Out of the firewall and into the frying pan? Credit: Flickr/Pheexies, under a Creative Commons license.
The original “spaghetti” scenario follows directly from Einstein’s theory of general relativity, which describes how gravity stretches the fabric of space and time. A black hole warps that fabric into a bottomless pit; if you get too close, you reach a point of no return called the horizon, where the slope becomes so steep that you can never ...

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