Everyone loves black holes. Immense gravity, a one-way space-time membrane, the possibility of links to other universes. All lovely stuff. A little trawl of the internets reveals an awful lot of web pages discussing black holes, and discussions about spaghettification, firewalls, lost information, and many other things. Actually, a lot of the stuff out there on the web is nonsense, hand-waving, partly informed guesswork. And one of the questions that gets asked is "What would you see looking out into the universe?" Some (incorrectly) say that you would never cross the event horizon, a significant mis-understanding of the coordinates of relativity. Other (incorrectly) conclude from this that you actually see the entire future history of the universe play out in front of your eyes. What we have to remember, of course, is that relativity is a mathematical theory, and instead of hand waving, we can use mathematics to work out what we will see. And that's what I did.
I have a cosmological post brewing, so I thought I would touch on a slightly different topic, namely the question of "could physics predict a giraffe?" The following has the usual "buyer beware" clauses; I am a physicist, an astrophysicist at that, and not a chemist, or a biologist, and definitely no a philosopher of science, although I may end up annoying all of them. To start with, let's look at the subject, to wit, a giraffe. The reason for the post is because of an article over at The Curious Wavefunction titled Why biology (and chemistry) is not physics. The basic argument is this; Physics is a fundamental science, and identified the basic workings of the Universe. How do nuclei hold themselves together, how does the Universe expand, why do electrons flow through conductors etc etc. That's physics. Now, physics is "reductionist", in that all complex processes can be broken down into a the application of relatively simple underlying phy
I have been swamped recently, not only at work (I am teaching electromagnetism to first year students) but also at home where we are renovating (and I am not too geeky enough to wield a sledge hammer). So, apologies for the sparse posting. The renovating is slowly approaching its conclusions (although we have lived almost a month with no doors inside the house), and research is trundling, so I will try and get back on top of posting. I should have posted this a little while ago, but the first paper in a new survey of the Galactic Centre was accepted for publication. The ARGOS project, as it is known, was originally intended to be a large scale international survey of a large chunk of sky, but we were not awarded time for that, and now it is a program focused upon the Galactic Bulge. It might seem strange, but while we can plainly see the centre of the Galaxy from here in Australia, there is a lot we don't know about it. It was only in the last 10-20 years we have come to unders