Thursday, 30 September 2010

For my better understanding (and perhaps yours) - Black Holes, Revisited

I ended my last post with a question - what happens on the 'other end' of a black hole? Well, I don't really know how a black hole is created or how a black hole 'works'. Consider the below a research essay.

Almost every element in our universe above hydrogen was created by nuclear fusion, or the fusion of lighter atoms into a heavier ones.

For nuclear fusion to occur, two (or more) atoms must be compressed together with a force stronger than their respective polarity charges - think trying to force two positively-charged magnets together - so that their nuclei will touch and thus merge. If the binding energy needed for the new heavier atom is less than that needed for the two lighter atoms combined, excess energy, neutrons and electrons are released (explosion), but if the binding energy needed for the resulting larger atom is more, the new atom actually absorbs energy.

Creating nuclear fusion in our environment is extremely difficult: we lack a natural gravitational force strong enough to complete the task, and it takes extreme amounts of energy to force two atoms close enough to fuse (through extreme magnetic forces, particle acceleration, or through heating a plasma enough that its atoms grow agitated enough to collide). On the other hand, stars do all the work themselves.

Stars, the origin of most black holes, produce their energy through fusing hydrogen atoms (our lightest element) into helium. Fusion is attained through both the enormous gravitational compression and heat at the sun's core. Since the binding force and electrons needed for a helium atom (most commonly two neutrons, two protons, two electrons) is less than four hydrogen atoms (one proton, one electron each), energy is released. The helium produced progresses into and becomes the star's core.

Fusion between all atoms in the periodical table lighter than iron create the outward-pushing energy the star needs to counter the enormous inward-pushing core-crushing forces of its own gravity. Fusion between elements heavier than iron needs energy, an energy that can come only from the still-fusable layers above the star's core. So if the star's fusion cycle progresses enough that its core becomes iron, it will collapse.

Here's where the fun begins: since the star's mass, if it is great enough, can only incite a energy-eating fusion at its iron core, here begins a chain-reaction process (that I won't get into here) that will 'compact' the atoms at the star's core into an intensely dense mass of neutrons (that some think resembles the consistence of atom's nucleus - no further compression possible), generating a minor exposion of outward-going nuclear debris that, when mingling with the star's still-fusionable outer layers, will generate a secondary much larger explosion, or supernova (creating an energy that is great enough to generate atoms heavier than iron, in a process called 'r-process'), an explosion that will blow the heavier elements it generates away into the rest of the galaxy. All that remains of the supernova is an immensely compact sphere of unstructured neutron(-proton) core encased by other 'lighter' unstructured atomic elements (progressively: neutrons, electrons, and some ions).

So here we have an object with a huge gravitational pull, no energy and no atomic structure. What this object is called depends on its (former) size: if it was created from an average-sized star, it would be called a neutron star (a non-glowing body that has gravitational pull enough to bend light travelling through its gravitational pull), yet if it had even more mass, it would have a gravitational pull so great that even light could not escape it: this would be a black hole. There is even a hypothesis that, if the star was even larger, it would collapse into a mass so compact that even its core neutrons disintegrate into core of quark-gluon plasma. In any case, the result is a body with gravitational and kinetic constants, a body that can only affect/be affected by the gravity/mass of its neighbours. Black holes do not have a 'sucking power' that stretches to infinite distances; black holes can only affect objects within the limits of their gravitational pull, just like any other celestial body.

If it were up to me, I would tend to group all the above celestial phenomenæ into the same category.

What did I retain from all this? I find it very interesting that our universe's first atoms were hydrogen atoms - all heavier elements are a result of mass accumulation then nuclear fusion. I did learn that a gravity generated by a mass large enough can overcome even the atomic structures of the mass itself. I also think that a bit much is being made about a black hole's 'event horizon': gravity sucks, even light, alright - who cares what 'we see' as 'observers'?
Concerning my quest for a 'constant theory', I can retain that the universe at its most energetic was hydrogen atoms, and that the universe at its energy-eating deadest is black holes, and that gravity, a constant throughout, exists in/affects every known element in our universe. Yes, gravity can bend, or even trap, light... or does gravity bend/trap the beam along which light is travelling? But I digress into my theorising.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

The Theory of Everything - An attempt at summation.

I recently came across a video series made by Nottingham University - 'Sixty Symbols' - that was answers by prominent physicists and astronomers to 'outside-the-box' viewer-submitted questions. One of the most interesting can be found here.

I loved the videos, but one thing that bothered me about the answers, although they were interesting and often quite imaginative, is that they were not quite 'out of the box' in their conception; most scientists seem to be stuck on existing models and our perceptions of those models - I think that, in order to come to a conclusive answer to how our universe functions, we have to do away with how we feel matter and the passage of time. The universe functions quite well on its own without our understanding of it.

These videos cover a wide range of exploration - the big bang, string theory, dark matter, to name a few - but each line of research seems to be stuck in an almost political path defined over sometimes hundreds of years of research and discoveries, and not one defined by the discoveries themselves. There is a connecting something between each line of research, but in order to discover and define it, one must take a step back and rethink all objectively as a whole.

Forgetting the Human 'point of view'
The thing that bothered me the most was their attempt to explain dimensions: it is practical to our perception of matter that it has a measurable breadth, width and depth, but if we re-ask the question from a purely functional point of view, the answer should be much simpler: all matter without exception has 'three dimensions', otherwise it wouldn't exist. So let's reduce our perceivable dimensions to 'is or isn't' - or one. As I mentioned in an earlier post, our sense of time is but our perception of matter's interaction; the scientific measure of time, on the other hand, is a documentation of matter's inter-relational evolution (relative speeds, etc), and of course should be retained.

The 'Joining' theory - a tale of two states
The only energy scientists have difficulty explaining is gravity: all other forms of energy - photons, electricity, magnetism - are but a consequential result of the interaction and behaviour of existing matter/elements. I think that both gravity and the existence of matter can be explained in a unique answer: the interaction/attraction between two energetic states.

I am increasingly persuaded that our universe is 'full' - it is constructed on a base of uniform energy. What we see around us is but a disturbance in that energy, or an energy in conflict with/departed from its initial state; the matter created, from photons to quarks (again, anything above is consequential), is simply a result of the difference in speed between the two energies. One could add direction into the mix (a possible explanation for dimensions), but let's just stay in our dimension for now.

String theory is a kind of nice way of painting this interaction into a form understandable to humans, but I think it kind of misses the point - and I don't see the logic behind the 'nine dimensions' theory (already faultily based on our all-too-human 'three dimensions' point of view). What does make sense in string theory research is that gravity somehow 'bleeds' into other dimensions - but I think 'other dimensions' can be translated to 'one energy's attraction to (or attempt to return to) its initial state' - that would make sense, because in all levels of physics, it is the behaviour of a dominant mass that affects the behaviour of another (anomaly) moving within it. An eddy flowing into the Mississippi, after a few disturbances, will eventually be forced to go with the flow.

I think that our universe's 'base energy' is in a state that is... faster than light (or slower: position is relative, only the difference between the two energetic states matter). In any case, we can consider light to be the highest energetic state existing in our universe - anything charged beyond becomes the base energetic state, and simply 'disappears'.

Dark Matter, Dark Energy
I haven't come up with any concrete idea about Dark Matter or Dark Energy, but it would make sense if they were energies just beyond the speed of light - or perhaps the gravitational attraction of the 'base energy' itself.

Black Holes
When a star's inner core (nuclear fission) is not enough to resist its heavier outer layers, it collapses; if the star is big enough, it implodes into a tiny mass whose gravity is so great not even light can escape its pull. The going theory is that the centre of a black hole attains 'zero (infinate) density'... but what if, at the centre of the black hole, the atomical elements are compacted/energized enough to return to their former 'base energy' state? This would mean that a black hole would eventually dissipate, and they do, but this often (so the theory goes) would take hundreds of billions of years beyond even the life of our galaxy. If an atomical structure would break down into a form matching the 'base energy', wouldn't gravity dissipate as well? How is a black hole's massive gravitational pull maintained for so long? There must be something happening at 'the other side'...

Dimensions, again.
I really don't think dimensions matter in this model. It may be possible that the direction of an 'energy anomaly' through an 'energy base state' may determine a dimension, but if this were the case, an infinite number of dimensions would be possible. Also, in order for matter to pass from one dimension to another, it would first have to attain the 'base energy' state in order to 'change direction'... but let's save dimensions for another day.