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Space Travel Through Black Holes

Black holes may enable us to travel to different universes. Physicist Lior Burko says travel through a black hole is theoretically possible, despite the fact that most scientists think the holes would destroy a spacecraft. But Burko says not all black holes are alike.

Black holes are invisible pits of gravity that have no surface, but instead have a spherical "event horizon," which can be several miles across. Once inside them, light and matter can't escape, which is why black holes are invisible. At the center of a black hole is a point called a singularity, where matter is crushed to infinite density, making these holes incredibly heavy.

"The singularity inside a?black hole is destructive, and any physical object which approaches it is necessarily and unavoidably pulverized by it," says Burko. "Specifically, any such object is infinitely stretched in one direction and infinitely squeezed in two other directions. That is sometimes called 'spaghettification.'"

But some black holes may have both strong and weak sectors. "It would allow the captain (of a spacecraft) to navigate toward the sector where the singularity is weak," Burko says. "Experiencing only finite (and even small) effects (of stretching and squeezing), the spaceship could arrive at the singularity unharmed. While that still does not guarantee a peaceful traversing of the singularity, it keeps the possibility of doing so open. If that traversing becomes possible, it could open a 'tunnel' to another universe."

Stellar black holes, created by the collapse of a star, won't work, because they have tidal forces that "can overwhelm the resistance of our bodies to stresses if the mass of the black hole is small," Burko says. To travel, we need a supermassive black hole, like the one at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. Burko says, "The situation (there) is much different, and tidal forces just on the boundary of the black hole can be very small, even smaller than on the surface of the Earth."

One problem is getting to the center of the Milky Way galaxy, a trip that takes 26,000 light-years. It would require a crew willing to die and reproduce for a few generations on the way. And even if they get there, no one has figured out if anything really exists on the "other side."

Some researchers think crop circles are time travel portals. Find out what Colin Andrews says about them on Dreamland.

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