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Mind-Blowing Black Hole!

By Shlomo  Maital  

black hole

BBC’s Radio 4 reports the discovery of a new black hole, a massive one.

       “Public astronomer Dr Marek Kukula, of the Royal Observatory Greenwich, told BBC broadcaster John Humphreys about the new discovery of a huge and ancient black hole.    He said it has grown faster than current physics would suggest possible, in the early development of the universe.    John Humphrys was surprised by the information from Dr Kukula that the black hole “is smaller than an atom” but “contains as much material as 12 thousand million [12 billion] stars, like the sun”.  “

    Smaller than an atom?    Holds material equal to 12 thousand million (i.e. billion) suns?  When our sun’s mass is  4.4 times 10 30 pounds – 12 billion of those, in a single atom?

   And here’s the best part.

   According to Dr. Kukula – this black hole was ‘born’ only 1 billion years after the birth of the universe,  or 12.8 billion years ago.  

  This is impossible.  Black holes are born when suns explode,  then ‘implode’ inward, creating such dense mass that the gravitational force does not allow light to escape, and sucks everything in the neighbourhood into this ‘black hole’.   But a billion years only after the universe was born is not sufficient time for a sun to be born, live, grow old, die, explode as a supernova and then implode to a black hole.

   It just can’t be. 

   So, what is going on?  Do we have to alter the laws of physics? 

   Stay tuned.   And kudos to all those astronomers, and Dr. Kukula, who spend long cold nights in the observatory, peering through telescopes, photographing things, so that one night, toiling in obscurity, so that they can find things that blow our minds.

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Survival:  An Extreme Case

By Shlomo  Maital

          Jose Ivan Morales

Jose Ivan Morales

  The Guardian, BBC and other media report the strange story of Jose Ivan Morales, a Mexican fisherman, who with two companions went to sea in a small 24 ft.  boat …and ended up 16 months later in the Marshall Islands, 8,000 miles away from Mexico.

    The fishermen left Mexico in September 2012.  Apparently there was a technical failure – the propellers fell off.  The two companions ostensibly died during the journey.

    How did Jose Ivan survive?   According to The Guardian, “Ivan indicated … that he survived by eating turtles, birds and fish and drinking turtle blood when there was no rain. No fishing gear was on the boat and Ivan suggested he caught turtles and birds with his bare hands. There was a turtle on the boat when it landed at Ebon.”

     One of my favorite programs on the Discovery channel is Bear Grylls’ program on survival. Grylls, who served for years in the British special forces,  dives into icy Arctic water,  tumbles down slopes, is buried in an avalanche, and in general shows us how to eat anything available, and build shelter, to continue to stay alive.  The key principle?  Never, ever give up.  Never quit.  People die of lack of hope, more than anything.

     Jose Ivan has taught us that you can survive in impossible conditions, if you improvise, act, and continue to hope.   I wish all those who lose hope and take their own lives could receive this message somehow. 

Blog entries written by Prof. Shlomo Maital

Shlomo Maital
June 2019
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