Black Holes: The Rabbit in the Magic Hat

(Editor’s Note: Scott is one of the foremost critics of celestial objects writing today. He speaks up when space objects and phenomena are lackluster or over-hyped. Recall, he wasn’t afraid to point out when the Supernova 1987A finale was a bit of a fizzle.)

As our minds and our mathematics reach further down the throats of black holes, it’s time for us to reconsider what our glimpses are telling us.

In 2019, scientists took a real photo of a black hole for the very first time. It’s a scenic overlook 55-million light-years distant. To capture our snapshot we needed eight ground-based telescopes and the use of hundreds of disposable cameras. (Remember those things?)

It’s a monumental achievement. And perhaps not just a scientific marvel. Such an improbable photo seems to me to offer hope of the supernatural. That’s how distant this science is from our everyday lives.

The Loch Ness Monster and The Black Hole Exchange Christmas Cards

Man staring up at the Milky Way.

It sounds ridiculous to compare a black hole to something like the Loch Ness Monster or the Abominable Snowman. But have to have followed the collective knowledge about black holes since they first swirled into existence on blackboards. The theories of how they eat, sleep, and breathe have remained fluid. How long ago did we confirm that they were in fact real?

Now we have the hard evidence safely stored on Google images, but it feels as if the gains we’ve made only increased the distance between us and a true understanding of what’s going on in that hole.

Perhaps we are so far away from grasping it, that for now, we must place the black hole in the realm of the paranormal…the spiritual…a ghostly face in a window.

Black Holes And Magic Tricks

Two galaxies collide.

We know that black holes swallow the brightest objects in the universe to snuff them out in moments. They devour their brothers and sisters with little indigestion. Scientists have eavesdropped on at least one such feast as two singularities collide.

The one thing we’ve known from the earliest days of graph paper is that anything that goes into a black hole is destroyed, never to emerge again. Or perhaps not. That would violate the law of conservation of energy.

Does a black hole have a memory? Is there a record of everything pulled in? Is it sorted or destroyed? Some scientists now believe all of the building material sucked into the hole could one day get repurposed to send something back out. The possibilities are infinite. A playable copy of Monopoly could come tumbling out…or a rabbit could coyly peek its head up.

Black holes almost require a new classification as the divine. Perhaps in the same strata as heaven and hell. Except we have that photo.

There’s no flowery poetry or scripture to go along with black holes. But there’s an image. Perhaps those with spiritual faith or a fondness for cryptozoology can share in the jubilation of that trail cam shuttering on the edges of a black hole as it passed by in the night. You may be closer to having proof that things exist beyond the normal and natural. The paranormal and supernatural are absolutely captured in that photo.

Rabbit coming out of a hat. (Graphic)

When a rabbit emerges from that dark hole in a black hat, what type of a hat is it considered to be? A magic hat, of course. Ta-Dah! If anything can emerge from a black hole, why not a magic trick? A hare?

The Rabbit Ears Are Showing

I started to consider these questions as the scientific community’s grasp on black holes seemed to wobble with each new article posted to GIZMONDO. Is a real understanding of what goes on beyond that event horizon so many light years ahead of where we are that it’s time for some brutal honesty?

Don’t think so? I ask you, what sort of phenomena could stump brilliant people and the world’s largest computers? How close are our computer simulations? What sort of celestial giant could put the juke on Stephen Hawking’s nimble mind?

Computer Server Room

Could the answer be magic or the ethereal? What if we were so far from having an answer, it might as well be.

Are the blackholes we chased in the early days of our detection the same blackholes we seek today? I know the holes haven’t changed, but perhaps our frame of reference should. Are we content just to update and merge the data or are we in need of a whole new framework to stretch our most current views across? So maybe it’s time to concede, at least for now, black holes are closer to The Great Hall at Hogwarts than a baking soda volcano.

Photogenic Evidence

A Black Hole
This is some of my homemade jewelry, but I think it’s a nice way to visualize black holes.

And yet, we have a photo. Showing something we should never have been able to see. Our brilliant physicists and astronomers found a path through the barrier.

Perhaps we’ve undersold what that photo means for humanity. That beautiful glowing ring of fire and complete cinder translated to pixels our brains are able to absorb through the optic nerve. Did we catch unimpeachable evidence of an apparition or a miracle?

The Shores of Loch Ness.
At the end of a black hole or the bottom of Loch Ness.

It’s as if the Loch Ness Monster has been driven to the surface. His scaly gray-green skin reflecting sunlight as he performs corkscrews in the chop.

Turn every satellite we have towards the Loch. Let’s capture a patchwork photo that’s crystal clear and shows the primordial process in the deepest trench.

Or let’s point our telescopes through the veil and paint a landscape portrait of those first green hills of Heaven.

For now, with our black hole etching, we have what is nearly magic shown clearly on our iPhones and laptops. Are we forgiven if it starts to feel like a spiritual experience?

So why not continue our streak. Put in another roll of film!

The Caveman’s Guide to the Galaxy

Imagine humanity is suddenly reset and we are back to drawing on cave walls. Consider this question… How long until we’d reach this point again? Of using a camera to image a hole that isn’t a hole at all.

Man with light standing in a cave.

Would we ever attain this level of understanding again? Vague references to invisible stars in letters traded back and forth between learned people. Have that familiar pale pinwheel show up on the painted covers of sci-fi paperbacks in a drugstore? And one day showing off a snapshot of something hidden behind an indescribable amount of gravity and dust.

What would be considered magic by a caveman or cavewoman? Is our ETA on publishing an operator’s manual for black holes further than the distance between cavemen and cellphones? Think about it. Is our knowledge gap between the spirit world and a man on a street corner shorter than the gap between our photo and our attempt to understand it? Do we know more about ghosts than we do about a black hole?

Maybe every equation used to snare a black hole must include a bit of ectoplasm.

Blackholes the Sequel

Man standing at the end of a tube that looks like a black hole.

Of course, I don’t mean to imply that the world’s most brilliant minds aren’t bringing us important, new information on our universe every day. Their dedication brings us closer every second they focus on our skies. But perhaps the goal line moves further away with each peek we take. Not their fault.

I simply want to highlight what’s contained in this one photo and others like it. If you want proof of an ape-man living in the forests of the Pacific Northwest, this photo is a reason for hope. It’s a still frame of the unthinkable and perhaps there are other unthinkables waiting to be snared in a photo.

(Editor’s extended note: Scott was inspired to write this ode after watching the tremendous documentary “Black Holes: The Edge of All We Know” available on Netflix. Scott didn’t comprehend 99% of it, but that didn’t matter. It’s an astoundingly beautiful ride to the edge of a singularity. It also tells the story of the work that went into snapping that first photo of a black hole.)

For more empty thoughts about Black Holes from Scott click here. Read his article on why black holes are needed to help us humans comprehend infinity.

Published by scottsentell20

Lifelong writer and coffee shop journaling champion. Content creator. Deep-Thought Diver. Hikes with dogs to learn their secrets to life. Likes the silence found on mountaintops and the peace that collects along the banks of small streams. I read old sci-fi novels to understand current events. Scott has roots in Alaska, Spokane, and North Carolina.

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