Black Holes – Time dilation and messing with my head

My mind is getting a bit fried right now. Maybe it’s to do with this time of year, but I’ve been thinking about time dilation, black holes and that kind of thing. This has all come about from the film Interstellar where a group of astronauts try to find a new home for the human race in a far away galaxy.

They get there through a wormhole that’s in the area of Saturn and find themselves in a star system where three planets orbit a black hole. Things are ok so far, this is good old fashioned Sci-Fi stuff.

interstellar1

The first world they visit is closest to the black hole and they work out that an hour on the surface for them will mean seven years will pass from the point of view of their mother ship, the Endurance. This is also ok, this is now not only science fiction but thanks to the theory of relativity also science fact (or as good as becasue no one has yet verified this fact).

This time dilation was demonstrated in the story when an unscheduled delay meant that rather than the mission to the planet taking a mere seven years, it in fact took 23 years. To them they were only a few hours, but the guy left behind on Endurance had aged 23 years and Joseph Cooper’s kids had turned into mature adults who had thought he was either dead or had abandoned them.

interstellar-gargantua

Towards the end of the film, the pilot Cooper ejects himself and his spacecraft from Endurance. He ejects so that the rest of the Endurance can escape to the third planet carrying Anne Hathaway’s lone survivor. In the film it gets weird and there’s a kind of 3D thought / reality  thing going on and this is where I split from the plot to my thinking.

 


 

By ejecting, Cooper has essentially given himself to the black hole (called Gargantua). Our understanding is that spectacularly intense gravity would kill him, crushing anything physical completely and utterly to mere atoms. From his point of view this would happen quickly, but probably not quickly enough thinking about it.

Getting to the point here – if Anne Hathaway could watch Copper falling into the black hole and past the event horizon (again another problem with this as light has a little trouble escaping a black hole – hence it’s name) things would be happening  slowly. Whereas for Cooper looking back up things would be happening  very quickly.

The first thing is that this is a total brain fuck in itself.

The second thing kinda blew my mind away, I’ve been picking up the pieces all week! Cooper may never, ever reach the physical entity of the black hole. If time is moving so fast outside the black hole what may actually kill Cooper (he’s not going to be too bothered by this I think) is the end of the universe.

Think about it… while he’s merrily (Ha!) falling towards his doom, the universe is speeding by up there. So much so that it ends before he reaches it?!?!

Damn – my mind blew again. Sometimes I wish I didn’t think so much!


 

This is some purely wildly out there thinking – this would mean that falling into a black hole could be a bath to living forever. Firstly it wouldn’t you would die from the gravity crush, but it’s the possibility. When the kind of concepts can be thought of in mathematics and proved in theories on relativity it begs the question – what the hell else can we discover?

The only limits are the limits that our human mind can actually perceive and cope with and maybe even accept.

That’s kinda big.

Simon 🙂

No ownership claimed on images – found on Google from the film Interstellar.

 

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22 thoughts on “Black Holes – Time dilation and messing with my head”

      1. work has been super, super busy for me and will continue to be so for about another 3 weeks then i’ll get a little breather for the holidays. of course i may very well sleep it away… lol

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  1. Wooooaaah! But now you have me wondering if the slowing down of time would also slow down Cooper’s oxygen consumption. He may indeed be falling until the end of time, but he might have run out of air millions of years before! I love thinking about this kind of stuff… Makes me wish I’d paid more attention in physics at school.

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      1. That’s true! And I’ve been busy enough this week… I don’t see the madness stopping until Christmas Eve evening, when I plan to collapse on my parents’ sofa with a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie 😆 How are you getting on?

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