Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Black Holes - Nature's first recycling program?

I'm getting ready to do a post related to IT-budgeting and the moniker, "Black Hole".  As I was thinking about what to say, I got a little side tracked on astrophysics.

Since I'm an engineer, I was taught in college that matter will always trend toward the lowest possible energy state.  My instructors called this concept "entropy".  They said that the Universe is destined to die a cold death some billions of years in the future.  Like a match, they told me, the Universe would burn brightly in the beginning only to slowly fade and burn out.

Fast forward 20 years - I was reading a number of articles about astronomy.  Apparently, at the heart of every galaxy (that we know of) there is (super)large black hole.  In a sense, these black holes help the galaxies to form and keep them held together through gravity over a very long time.

Looking at most of what these black holes "eat", scientists observe that majority of the matter is low-energy dust, dirt, and debris.  So it would seem that black holes help promote entropy by gobbling up all this stuff and turning it into nothing.

But wait!  Upon looking at black holes on the x-ray spectrum, these things are emitting an enormous amount of ultra-high energy particles.  In fact, they look like halogen headlights of Schwarzeneggar-like proportions!  So it appears that black holes are, in fact, actually recycling low energy matter into an extremely high energy state.  Mother Nature's first and most awesome recycling bin...

Maybe the Universe won't be fading away anytime soon...?

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