VIDEO: Stephen Hawking On Why Black Holes Are Worthy of Your Consideration

By  //  June 13, 2016

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initiative will delve into the places in the universe where spacetime sags around massive objects

ABOVE VIDEO: Black holes are often viewed as inescapable vortexes, but, in a recent talk at Harvard University, Stephen Hawking suggested they might be more like portals than prisons. (GeoBeats News video)

(Smithsonianmag.com) –As research subjects, black holes have never been more luminous.

But in the 1970s, the renowned physicist Stephen Hawking said that he found them vexing.

On April 18, in Harvard University’s Sanders Theatre, Hawking gave a lecture to inaugurate a new Black Hole Research Initiative to be headquartered at the university in partnership with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

This effort is aimed at probing how these entities behave—and the mind-bending mystery of what happens when you venture inside them.

Although he accepted the common wisdom that black holes were completely black, his equations showed that they emitted particles, giving off a faint glow we now call Hawking radiation.

Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking

“I therefore put quite a lot of effort into trying to get rid of this embarrassing effect,” he said.

“But the more I thought about it, the more it refused to go away.”

The new initiative, directed by Harvard astrophysicist Avi Loeb, puts an exclamation point on what has already been a pretty good century for black holes.

A fresh highlight came this past February, when the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) reported the first detection of gravitational waves, confirming a key prediction of Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

 Black holes are often viewed as inescapable vortexes, but, in a recent talk at Harvard University, Stephen Hawking suggested they might be more like portals than prisons.

Black holes are often viewed as inescapable vortexes, but, in a recent talk at Harvard University, Stephen Hawking suggested they might be more like portals than prisons. (Smithsonianmag.com image)

These ripples in spacetime were set off by the distant collision of two black holes, each a few dozen times heavier than the Sun.

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That signal offered perhaps the most tangible evidence yet that such bizarre objects really exist. Better still, it showed that they move the way scientists have calculated they should. “LIGO has opened a new window in our universe,” Hawking said at Harvard.

“With more detections expected, I am excited by the possibility of new discoveries.”

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