Adler Astronomer Talks about "Black Holes"... Mar 22, 2007 11:51:04 GMT -6
Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Mar 22, 2007 11:51:04 GMT -6
Black hole Q&A with Dr. Geza Gyuk
Dr. Geza Gyuk is director of astronomy at the Adler Planetarium. He was more than happy to talk with us in layman's terms about black holes.
Q: Why are people so intrigued by black holes? A : Black holes are the end of space, they're sort of an archetype. They're the biggest, the most powerful, mythic proportions. They represent the most extreme conditions of space.
Plus, people like the unknown. The desire to explore is part of the human condition.
Q: Why are astronomers so intrigued by them? A: Black holes represent the most extreme conditions of space. They allow scientists to test the fundamental theories of gravity and space.
Q: Do scientists have a grip on this seemingly complex phenomenon? A: There really is a lot of mystery surrounding black holes. On the one hand, they seem so complex, yet they can be completely described by three numbers - mass, spin and electrical charge. Nothing else in the universe can be described as simply.
Still, scientists don't know everything. We know theory and that Einstein's theory describes black holes perfectly. What we don't really understand in how a black hole interacts with matter.
Q: What exactly is a black hole? A: They're places were time and space are warped to such an extent that they flip. Time becomes space and space becomes time. They're places where not even light can escape the gravitational pull.
Q: Should the average person be concerned about black holes? A: No. Black holes don't act as cosmic vacuum cleaners. They aren't scooping up the universe. However, if you got too close to a black hole - say, within less than two times its radius - you could get sucked in.
Q: What are the chances of that happening? A: Not good.
Q: Is every star, including our sun, destined to become a supernova and thus create a black hole?
A: No. Very few will become a supernova. The average galaxy has 10 billion stars. Only one in maybe 10,000 will become a supernova.
Q: Is this film, "Black Holes: The Other Side of Infinity," too sophisticated for children?
A: No. Adults tend to be more fearful of complex ideas. While some things may be over their heads, kids tend to come out of the film saying, "That was cool." And that's what the Adler is all about. We're an inspirational institution more than an educational one. We hope to leave a greater appreciation for astronomy. We want people to be inspired by their experience here.
People don't go to an art museum to become an artist. They go to acquire an appreciation for art. It's the same with the planetarium.
You know, I have yet to see the "Black Hole" show at the Adler....D'oh!