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ETpro's avatar

What goes on inside a black hole's singularity?

Asked by ETpro (34217 points ) August 29th, 2013

It would certainly seem that, inside the Schwarzschild radius of a black hole, our understanding of physics and quantum mechanical behavior of particles and radiation breaks down. Most physicists and cosmologists are confident enough of that seemingly self-evident fact to state it as fact. But do you think that means that the elementary particles of the standard model; the leptons, quarks, and bosons; are just packed together so tightly that they have no wave function and all physics disappears? Does it mean that they still exist and act, only under different rules? Or perhaps they return to some primordial state in which there are no particles and there is no standard model.

How could we know the singularity has zero volume and infinite density? It would seem that could only be true if all particles are point particles with no real volume. And if that’s the case, then not only is non-locality an illusion as suggested by quantum entanglement, the very existence of “stuff” is an illusion.

I’m not reaching for a bunch of woo-woo here, but if quantum mechanics has taught me anything it is that I can’t understand all of physics simply based on what illusions I see at the limited wavelength and macro scale of my incredibly narrow viewport. Dawkins described human observational limits aptly as our being clothed in a burka with a 1-inch slit to look out of, but being unaware that the fabric of that burka towers hundreds of miles above and hangs hundreds of miles below that viewing slit. We have eyes designed to take in just a tiny fraction somewhere in the middle of a vast spectrum of radiation. We cannot take in the scale of the solar system, and it is just a tiny dot in our galaxy, which is a tiny dot in our local cluster, which is a tiny dot in a known universe with a current diameter of 94 billion light years. We have eyes that can see a rock, but cannot see that it is almost entirely empty space and cannot even imagine the weirdness of the quantum world that makes up the Earth we walk on, the bodies that we inhabit, and the brains we use to think about these things.

Yet amazingly, theists ask, “Without god, where would you get the sense of wonder, the appreciation of majesty?”

I know that we do not currently know the answers. I’m just looking for your best guess here. What goes on inside a black hole’s singularity?

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35 Answers

KNOWITALL's avatar

Amazingly a question about the Black Hole turns into another ‘Yet amazingly, theists ask’ question! Your one-track mind of trying to demean Christians is what is quite amazing.

ETpro's avatar

No, actually I have been building a slow and deliberate case, with a long series of questions, to establish the point that the creationist’s argument that, “Common sense tells us everything has a cause, things don’t come from nothing.” often called the cosmological argument is a deeply flawed assertion without any merit in logic.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I thought cause and effect was a scientific argument… Not a creationist one.

What am I missing here?

Rarebear's avatar

Simply put, no one knows.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I just want to know if black holes are…
sucking us out from the inside… or sucking us in from the outside.

thorninmud's avatar

In a condition where time is not in force, can anything at all “go on”?

drhat77's avatar

You should ask Eggie. He had a momentary glance and hasn’t been the same sine

ETpro's avatar

@Rarebear. Indeed.

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies I think it would be a white hole that would suck us out from the inside. They are mathematically consistent with the laws of cosmology and physics, but it they exist, we ought to see them. They should be the brightest objects in the night sky for a given distance from the observer.

@thorninmud That certainly seems reasonable, but so much that seems reasonable breaks down when we look closely that I don’t even know if that’s accurate.

@drhat77 I shall certainly let him know he needs to make an appearance here. At least, I’ll egg him on toward that end.

hogbuttons's avatar

I’m sure those M-Theory guys have proposed an answer. Something along the lines of; how we live in an 11-dimensional multiverse where time, matter and energy are all the same things just at different vibrations, and that what goes inside is being transported to a part of time-space that exists outside of our three dimensions and so we have no way of observing it?
But I have no idea really…

Tropical_Willie's avatar

A great big plasma washing machine on spin cycle.

gorillapaws's avatar

@KNOWITALL Could you point me to the line where @ETpro bashes on Jesus Christ or Christians? He makes a reference to God, but I didn’t realize Christians had a monopoly on him.

flutherother's avatar

What is fascinating about Black Holes is that they can only be explained by reconciling quantum theory with relativity and no one knows how to do that. Black holes are mysterious objects that we don’t understand very well but the singularity we know nothing about whatever. Not a thing.

PS You might enjoy Leonard Susskind’s lecture if you can avoid the distraction of the guy in the foreground devouring his sandwich.

hogbuttons's avatar

And theists and atheists have a lot in common; neither knows anything about the existence of god (or possibly anything), yet have absolute faith in the answers they propose and choose to believe in.

“Hence the ways of men part: if you wish to strive for peace of soul and pleasure, then believe; if you wish to be a devotee of truth, then inquire.”

Lightlyseared's avatar

Stuff. Weird, physics, stuff.

gorillapaws's avatar

@hogbuttons That’s actually a common misconception. Atheists don’t have absolute faith that there is no God. They simply don’t have any evidence to believe he/she/it exists and so they don’t. It’s the default position. I would think that nobody here believes in invisible minature unicorns that fly around us all day, but it would be incorrect to say that we have absolute faith that they don’t exist. We simply haven’t seen any evidence to support belief in ther existence,so we don’t. If an Athiest came across incontrovertible proof of God’s existence, she would be willing to change her belief. On the other hand, if we found incontrovertible evidence that disproves the existence of God, I think there would still be many who would hold strong to their faith in God’s existence even despite the proof.

I personally lean more towards the position that God exists, but I happily acknowledge that I could be wrong, and I’m able to appreciate/respect the position of the Athiest.

drhat77's avatar

If you offend my invisible minature unicorns they will stick their horns into your black hole.

hogbuttons's avatar

@gorillapaws A belief based in reason is still a belief. They do not believe in god, based on a lack of any incontrovertible evidence; a reasonable belief. I believe that when I turn the key in my cars ignition lock cylinder, that it will turn on the electrical system that will send power to the starter solenoid; initiating the process of turning my engine over. Also, a reasonable belief. It very well might not, however, yet I still believe that it will, based on the lack of any evidence that it might not, as well as the preexisting evidence that it has before. Had I gone into the process every single time with the uncertain idea that “this car may not start,” I would be holding an idea that is closer to the reality at hand. It would simply be a little emotionally exhausting for most, myself included. It is easier to believe that it will “just start.”

drhat77's avatar

So this discussion took a left turn into religion and belief up by @KNOWITALL‘s comment that I cannot follow, and I have been lost ever since. What do black holes have to do with religion?

hogbuttons's avatar

Doesn’t everything go inside though? That was my prior understanding. That it pulls in light, matter, energy, space-time, everything?
Im going for everything… Maybe I would have learned more from watching all of that “Event Horizon” movie… But for me that movie was itself an event horizon, if you know what I mean…

Eggie's avatar

Try kneeling down and pray for the answer, you will soon get it…guaranteed!

ETpro's avatar

@hogbuttons While the ideas of strings, branes and a multiverse are all very interesting, and all mathematically consistent, there isn’t a shred of evidence any of them are based on fact. Thus it is really wrong to attach the word “theory” to them. They are postulates in the most rudimentary sense of the word.

@Tropical_Willie I like that thought. It’s time that the Universe comes clean.

@gorillapaws Thank you.

@flutherother That’s a fascinating lecture. I got half way through and the sandwich was fully consumed, but it’s getting late so I’ll watch the last half tomorrow. He was just moving from the classical description of the black hole to the quantum one as I paused it.

@hogbuttons Slaughters in the name of this that and the other god from the at least dawn of history, and probably further back right up to this day. How does that equate to “peace of soul and pleasure”?

@Lightlyseared Most assuredly weird from the viewpoint of what I know of reality.

@gorillapaws Well said.

@hogbuttons There is a vast difference between reason and religion, though. A belief system based on reason is subject to immediate change every time a reason to change is is observed. A belief system based on absolute authority is not. As Kurt Wise said in Six Days: Why 50 Scientists Choose to Believe in Creation, “I am a young age creationist because that is my understanding of the Scripture. As I shared with my professors years ago when I was in college, if all the evidence in the universe turns against creationism, I would be the first to admit it, but I would still be a creationist because that is what the Word of God seems to indicate.” The two ways of approaching what to believe are diametrically opposed.

@drhat77 Seems instant Karma’s gonna get me.

@hogbuttons In a sense it does, and in a sense it doesn’t. It depends on the viewpoint of the observer.

@Eggie I keep getting it no matter what position I assume. :-)

hogbuttons's avatar

I called it M-theory because that is what it is generally referenced as? Im not the original attach-er. It isn’t as if you actually could go about proving any of it, not with our technology anyways. And belief, in general, does not equate belief in any god. I am referring to the act of believing in and of itself, or at least the author of the quote was. It means that you are putting your mind at rest by having faith that an idea is true, or has some amount of truth to it, as opposed to the idea that everything is uncertain. Perhaps because truth cannot be known, making knowledge impossible, or perhaps because truth itself does not exist. Someone who has belief (of an alleged truth) is in a state of satisfaction, as opposed to someone who is unsatisfied with what (alleged) knowledge they have and wishes to gain more.
Also, slaughter or murder is a human invention. We are the only known beings in existence who kill for no reason except for pleasure. Orca may kill whales and not eat much of them at all, but our observations tell us that the original motivation was to eat. There is no indication that they do so for pleasure, or derive any pleasure from the act. Humans, like it or not, are murderous beings, and they dont need a belief in any god to warrant their condition. Although that might at times make for a convenient explanation of and for their behaviors (god wants it, god doesnt like these people, etc.). The underlying factor is that they do it because they want too though. In a world without belief in any gods, the human desire to kill for pleasure would remain. Donatien Alphonse François (Marquis de Sade), the author of “120 Days of Sodom” devotes an entire chapter of said book (the month of February) to detailing “the murderous passions” (burning entire families to death, infanticide, disemboweling pregnant women, and skinning children alive) and makes no mention of god, and the raping of nuns during mass in the preceding portions of the book doesnt count.

ETpro's avatar

This just in from the Chandra Space Telescope about the supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way Galaxy. It doesn’t give us a clue what goes on inside the event horizon, but it does tell us that black holes are not the voracious eaters we had speculated they would be. If anything it makes them even more puzzling objects.

@hogbuttons Yes, I know we toss around terms like M-theory, String Theory, even Ancient Alien Theory with regularity. Even scientists fall into doing so. But none of those ideas rightly deserves the elevated status of being called a theory yet. Maybe some day when experimental data are in and the ideas have been used to predict other, up-to-then unknown phenomena which observation then confirms as accurate, then they will legitimately be theories. As of now, they are simply interesting and unproven postulates.

I also understand the meaning of “belief” and that is not what I am disputing. What I am saying is that one behaves very differently when one’s beliefs are based on evidence and subject to change when new evidence is discovered; and when one’s beliefs are based on absolute authority that can never change.

Slaughter and murder are most definitely NOT a human invention. We have our faults, but let’s give ourselves credit where credit is due as well Murder is much more common in lion prides and in troops of monkeys and even among ant colonies of the same species than in human society. The murder rate among a group of chimpanzees is about the same as it is in human cities, and rival tribes of chimps battle it out routinely for resources and turf, and deaths are common in these “tribal” turf wars.

I think that advancing the Marquis de Sade as an archetype for human behavior shows the weakness of this line of argument. Humans have gone to war over religious differences, they have fought to advance some conqueror’s lust for power and greatness, they have battled over national interests, and to defend and spread state religions such as Stalinism, Maoism, and the DPRK’s deification of Kim Il-sung and his successors. I really can’t recall an instance in history when nations went to war in the name of Satanism, or to push the ideas of de Sade, or spread Atheism. Certainly the Soviet Union, China and the DPRK are atheistic governments, but their aggression was aimed at spreading their political influence and state religion, and not aimed at convincing the religious to convert to unbelief.

And what does any of this have to do with what goes on inside the event horizon of a black hole?

hogbuttons's avatar

Chimps and lions do so for competing resources and to maintain their genetic dominance, that is different than killing for the pleasure of killing; a human invention. I shouldnt have said murder. More specifically, pleasure killing. Nothing else does that.
It just seems to me a fiction to think that if you removed religion from humanity that war and other atrocities would stop. We would just find new reasons to do all of the same things. Even for pure pleasure, which was my point. Atheism and satanism and other things havent caused the same events because they are marginalized beliefs and would not be capable of doing so. If they had the capability to, and a single half-brained reason, they would in a heart-beat. Human beings are not rational thinkers, that is utopian Enlightenment era thinking that puts too much praise in reason. We think based on what meaning we place into things. However unreasonable that meaning may be.
And most people might not emulate Sade by way of pleasure rape and killing, but his philosophy of “I should do whatever I want, because other people dont matter” is still a popular one.

ETpro's avatar

@hogbuttons No, not all chimp and lion killing of their own kind follow that model. And given the fact we can get inside another human being’s head and fully appreciate their motives, we most certainly are being presumptuous to claim knowledge about how chimpanzees, monkeys, and lions feel about killing another of their own kind.

And again, the point of this question is getting inside what goes on in a black hole, not a lion’s mind.

Yetanotheruser's avatar

@ETpro As you stated, I think it would be the complete breakdown of physics (as we know it). It just might be a spot where time and space cease to exist, and everything happens at once at the same point outside of (or beside) space.

flutherother's avatar

What happens in a Black Hole singularity stays in a Black Hole singularity.

ETpro's avatar

@Yetanotheruser That makes some sense, as black holes have a near infinite capability to store information in a shell one planck length thick in their event horizon. If I was piloting a spaceship into a black hole, an observer well outside the black hole’s gravity well would see me asymptotically slowing down as I approached the event horizon, and I would appear to them to be getting flattened pancake fashion, with my ship’s features all reflected in the flattened form, eventually going almost infinitely slow. But to me inside the ship, time would remain normal and I would sense my ship’s approach to the event horizon as moving at my ship’s normal speed.

@flutherother Ha! Seems so true, but actually black holes evaporate. It just takes trillions of years for a large on to fizzle out. Thanks so much for the link to Leonard Susskind’s lecture. That was terrific. I was able to listen to the last of it this evening. Now I am confused at a much higher level.

ETpro's avatar

For all who had to say I don’t know for sure in answer to this question, this news should make you feel pretty smart. Before I asked here, I posted the question on Ask an Astrophysicist

I finally got a reply.

Thanks for your question and apologies for the delay in answering it.

Unfortunately your question is beyond our domain of expertise (astronomy and astrophysics), and should be asked to an expert working on theoretical aspects of high-energy particle physics and gravitation, for example string theorists.

Hope this helps,

In other words, we might be able to explain this unknown with this new and currently untestable postulate. Might as well say magic controls what goes on inside the event horizon.

Yetanotheruser's avatar

@ETpro Isn’t that what you meant by ”...a bunch of woo-woo…”?

ETpro's avatar

@Yetanotheruser That’s exactly what I meant, and thus it’s not a satisfying answer.

ETpro's avatar

@Yetanotheruser At least the research to find that out is “satisfying”. :-)

Yetanotheruser's avatar

I’ve never been able to get past 5.

ETpro's avatar

@Yetanotheruser They don’t want you to think biting is outlawed. :-)

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