Monolith – Dark Matter and The Void

Dark Matter and The Void – The Universe and Everything In It Series

‘Clarke’s novel explicitly identifies the monolith as a tool created by an alien race that has been through many stages of evolution, moving from organic forms, through biomechanics, and finally has achieved a state of pure energy.’                                                                            – George De Met: ‘Authorship of 2001’ (2001: A Space Odyssey 1968 Arthur C Clarke)

Void – definition:
1. Containing no matter; empty.
2. Completely lacking; devoid: void of understanding.
3. An empty space.
4. A vacuum.
4. An open space or a break in continuity; a gap.
5. A feeling or state of emptiness, loneliness, or loss.

‘Immediately after Albert Einstein published his general theory of relativity in 1915, physicists began trying to figure out what his equations said about the actual operation of the universe. One of them was a German astrophysicist-turned-soldier named Karl Schwarzschild. Working from a trench during World War I, he found a way to calculate the curvature of space-time around a highly idealized, perfectly spherical star. He mailed his equations to Einstein, who presented them in Schwarzschild’s stead at a January 1916 conference in Berlin. Four months later, Schwarzschild died of illness on the eastern front.

Einstein was impressed by Schwarzschild’s math, but he rejected one of his predictions—that a dense enough star would collapse under its own gravity into an infinitely small, infinitely dense point. Einstein insisted that some force of nature that Schwarzschild had ignored would prevent this implosion. The most prominent physicists of the era agreed with Einstein. Black holes, as we now call them, violated so many intuitive ideas about how the universe should work that they met with what the California Institute of Technology theorist Kip Thorne called “widespread and almost universal 20th-century resistance.”

Yet in the following decades, physicists became increasingly convinced that Schwarzschild was right. In 1939 Robert Oppenheimer, the physicist who would later lead the Manhattan Project, built on Schwarzschild’s work (plus two additional decades of research on general relativity) to develop the most persuasive case yet that certain stars, upon exhaustion of their nuclear fuel, would collapse under their own gravity. In the 1950s, using computer models coded to simulate the detonation of hydrogen bombs, both American and Soviet physicists independently generated the most sophisticated mathematical arguments yet that when sufficiently massive stars die, implosion is inevitable.

In the 1960s astronomers started finding empirical evidence, however indirect, that black holes weren’t merely mathematical constructs, but that they actually existed. Nothing but enormous black holes, for example, could power quasars—points of light, some of them at the edge of the observable universe, that shine with the luminosity of hundreds of galaxies. In the 1990s astronomers found that stars near the center of galaxies were orbiting at millions of miles per hour. Such speeds made sense only if those stars were orbiting black holes.

Most physicists now accept the existence of black holes—regions of space where gravity becomes infinitely powerful, matter becomes infinitely dense, time freezes and light becomes trapped. Black holes come in two main varieties: stellar-mass holes, which remain after a star collapses, and supermassive ones, which scientists now say sit at the core of all galaxies. At the center of every black hole is a singularity, a point at which our understanding of the laws of physics breaks down. At the edge of every black hole is a boundary called the event horizon, which separates the hole from the rest of the universe. The event horizon is, as Doeleman says, “a one-way membrane in space-time” that leads to “someplace causally distinct from where we are now.” It’s an exit door from the universe with a strict reentry policy: What passes through can never come back.’                                                                                                              – Signals From The Void By Seth Fletcher      


About barryfalk

I am a self-taught photographer based in West Sussex. I photograph ‘Incidental Spaces’, places tucked away and neglected: edges of car parks, junk-filled garages, loading bays, abandoned spaces, vacant rooms, ransacked offices. These are the overlooked details of a city: architectural features which appear to serve no function. My images seek to capture an aspect of the city which is not willingly acknowledged. These places can be read as metaphors for loss and as such are suffused with a disturbed sense of self, what Freud referred to as the unheimliche: the familiar which has become alienated through the process of repression. However, when re-seen, photographed from a particular angle, in a certain light, these incidental spaces turn out to be resonant with association.
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