National Geographic’s March edition cover story is about black holes.
Readers will recall the recent dustup where Stephen Hawking seemed to pull back from the whole idea, even though it was practically a Hawking brand.
At the center of a black hole is a conundrum called a singularity. To understand a singularity would be one of the greatest scientific breakthroughs in history. You’d first need to invent a new theory—one that went beyond Einstein’s general relativity, which determines the motion of stars and galaxies. And you’d have to surpass quantum mechanics, which predicts what happens to microscopic particles. Both theories are fine approximations of reality, but in a place of extremes, like the interior of a black hole, neither applies.
Singularities are imagined to be extremely tiny. Beyond tiny: Enlarge a singularity a trillion trillion times, and the world’s most powerful microscope wouldn’t come close to seeing it. But something is there, at least in a mathematical sense. Something not just small but also unimaginably heavy. Don’t bother wondering what. The vast majority of physicists say, yes, black holes exist, but they are the ultimate Fort Knox. They’re impenetrable. We will never know what’s inside a singularity.
But a couple of unorthodox thinkers beg to differ. In recent years it’s become increasingly accepted among theoretical physicists that our universe is not all there is. We live, rather, in what’s known as the multiverse—a vast collection of universes, each a separate bubble in the Swiss cheese of reality. This is all highly speculative, but it’s possible that to give birth to a new universe you first need to take a bunch of matter from an existing universe, crunch it down, and seal it off.
And guess what, the article ends with the suggestion that our universe originated as a black hole in another universe.
The evidence for the proposition is precisely nothing except the fact that someone could think it up.
See also: The Science Fictions series at your fingertips (cosmology).
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