Monday, September 04, 2006

A Conversation with a Black Hole

After giving the matter some significant thought, she wondered why she continued to choose black holes for friends. You know the type--the ones who don't allow even a photon of a reaction to escape the event horizon that invariably seems to separate them from all those who orbit them. What DID they do with everything they consumed, anyway? Did it just get sucked into oblivion, as though it had never existed in the first place? Was it stretched, crushed, or torn into pieces before it disappeared? Or did it exert some sort of enduring influence on the hole first? She really wondered.

Hi! Black Hole here. It's all about the energy. So much going on inside the hole that . . . If you are posting this in the blogosphere, that only means . . .

She also wondered if her superficial understanding of black holes was accurate, and decided to investigate. According to Ted Bunn, "As you would expect, the escape velocity depends on the mass of the planet: if the planet is extremely massive, then its gravity is very strong, and the escape velocity is high. A lighter planet would have a smaller escape velocity. The escape velocity also depends on how far you are from the planet's center: the closer you are, the higher the escape velocity."

She imagined that probably held true for any number of other contexts too--the larger the "mass" (a.k.a. importance? influence?) of the thought, word, habit, person, culture, or institution in one's life, and the closer one was to that entitity (in both time and space), the more influence their gravitational field would be likely to have, and the more difficult it would be to disengage oneself from that orbit.

It did make her wonder why negative words seem to have a much higher escape velocity than positive ones.

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