Black Holes And Pedicures

There are days when I think deep thoughts and then there are those days like today, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

One of the first sites I visit on the internet when I log on in the morning or afternoon depending on when I wake up which depends on when I fell asleep is Stardate.org. It is not about how to get a date with a celebrity but rather it is about stars, space, and physics. The last few days have been about gravity and gravitational waves.

Gases around the black hole at the center of the Milky Way from Stardate.org

I discovered a few days ago that gravity is one of the weakest forces, physically speaking. I thought this was odd as it seems to be a rather strong force seeing as how it holds us all on the planet. Without gravity, we would fly off into space, bouncing off the moon and burning up if we got too close to a star. And then there is the whole black hole thing. I’ve always heard that a black hole is a dying star that collapses in on itself and becomes so massive that not even light can escape the gravitational pull.

However, the last few days I’ve been reading about LIGO which is a gravitational wave observatory designed to detect gravitational waves and these gravitational waves are ripples in spacetime. I also learned that another way to create black holes is by a merger of two neutron stars which gives a whole new meaning, at least to me, of the song Neutron Dance. 

However, this is all conjecture at this point. But apparently detecting gravitational waves would be quite useful. I can’t explain it nearly as well as physicist  Alan Weinstein who is quoted in today’s Stardate update: “The first thing it would tell us is that black holes — astrophysical black holes really are the objects described theoretically from Einstein’s equations. Einstein’s equation tells us that what black holes are is not dense matter but more or less infinitely curved space. It’s a different kind of an object. We don’t have direct evidence that such objects actually exist.”

Another physicist, Rainer Weiss, was also quoted: “The thing that everybody’s going to ask is what happens when they crash into each other.” This is not what I was going to ask, but I’ll get to that, let’s finish his quote. “That’s going to be a test of what nuclear physics is like. How do you suppose these neutron stars bounce when they hit each other, do they splash, what’s the equation of the state of nuclear matter in these stars and so forth. Gravitational radiation will tell you that, more than anything else, because it can look right through the thing and it doesn’t get disturbed by anything. That’s the nice thing about gravitational waves. You can get a real nice view of what’s going on inside.”

I’m not a physicist and I don’t pretend to understand all of what I’ve read in the last few days. But today’s article did have me wondering about things. This is what was running through my mind as I read today’s Stardate update.

What color should I paint my toenails today? Is one of the requirements of becoming a physicist that your last name begin with the letter W? I wonder what I should have for lunch, my stomach’s starting to growl. If a black hole is infinitely curved space wouldn’t we be inside one? Isn’t infinity forever? I think pink would be a nice change for my toes since they’ve been sporting black for the last couple of weeks.  Black toes, black holes – there might be a song in there somewhere. I should have paid more attention in science classes. I should have taken more science classes. But then I would have had to take more math. I’m more a English, philosophy, history, kind of person.  How To Destroy Angels is an odd name for a band or a really cool name – I can’t decide, but I like this song. Is it still raining?

No, today was not a day for deep thoughts. And in case you were wondering, I chose a lovely shade of iridescent lavender for my toenails. I’m still deciding on lunch.

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20 thoughts on “Black Holes And Pedicures

  1. I’ve always wondered if black holes were just black because they were depressed and angry. Maybe if they had their toes painted they wouldn’t be?

  2. Gotta start from the ground up. So, toes first, head last. This is also true when you’re getting into water of unknown temperature. Don’t want to get into hot water, or jump into the deep end. You also want to come in when it starts raining so you don’t get wet. And avoid the puddles on the ground. And start from the ground up…

    Sorry, I realize now this is circular reasoning. Listen to the Muse song Starlight instead.

    • I like jumping into the deep end especially if the water’s cold – can’t ease into cold water. And I like playing in the rain and splashing through the puddles. I do at least start from the ground and then go up unless I’m sleeping in a treehouse, then I have to go down to the ground, but that doesn’t happen too often.

  3. All that serious stuff at the beginning and I kept wondering where you were going to end up. I knew it couldn’t stay serious all the way through. I was pleasantly surprised at the end.

  4. How can one be expected to solve the mysteries of the universe on an empty stomch? I just did my toes in a deep purple but with enough metalic in it to still look purple. Oh, I just bought a new mint green and sky blue for spring ! oh, good luck with the gravit thing….

  5. To bake your noodle: “If a black hole is infinitely curved space wouldn’t we be inside one?” you wondered. There are theories that explain why we may well actually be in that situation… either that or the “shadow” of an 11-dimensional reality… ouch. I just sprained something.

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