Wednesday, March 08, 2006


Dark Energy Stars

Man, I was just to the point where I'd wrapped my brain around the physics of black holes. Now George Chapline, a physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, and Nobel laureate Robert Laughlin of Stanford University, come along and say that there might not be any black holes after all, but dark energy stars instead. Added bonus? These dark energy stars would also account for all of that pesky dark energy and dark matter. This supposedly addresses the whole question of information loss.

I've just written a whole novel that hinges on controlled, artificially created microscopic black holes. I hope that the black hole theory remains accepted currency at least until the book is published!

On a tangentially related note, another project of mine, set in the near future, includes a United States that has taken a fairly radical turn towards a non-rational, fundamentalist religious, totalitarian culture. What is unexpected and ironic about this is that every bit of horrible news that shows up, on an almost daily basis, about just this sort of thing unfolding right before our eyes, is ironically welcome news, since it means I won't have to rework the project. If America were to turn into a free-loving, anarcho-syndicalist, weed-smoking agrarian commune tomorrow, I'd be screwed.

"I've just written a whole novel that hinges on controlled, artificially created microscopic black holes."

Wow, you follow in the footsteps of a Godzilla movie! Have you seen G vs Megaguirus? Now, I'm sure your book will be far more realistic, but you might it fun. (Of course, the black holes aren't microscopic, but they are controlled.)
Yeesh. That line should be "Now I'm sure your book will be far more realistic, but you might find the movie fun." Must edit better.
Can you reveal how you keep your microscopic black holes from evaporating?
Brian, good science is not why I watch Godzilla flicks. But I do watch them!
Ted, it involved a fair bit of handwaving, I'll admit. The civilization in question has, in some way that isn't explained, worked out a way of creating microscopic singularities. They maintain control of the singularities by use of some "exotic matter" with negative energy characteristics. As for preventing evaporation, they don't; the evaporation of energy is the point, and is used as a power source. There's some discussion about the fact that the temperature radiated by a singularity is inversely proportionate to its mass, and that the smaller the singularity the faster it evaporates, but beyond that the characters don't go into the math involved.
Hey, this Dark Star thing is fascinating.

The most intriguing fallout from this idea has to do with the strength of the vacuum energy inside the dark energy star. This energy is related to the star's size, and for a star as big as our universe the calculated vacuum energy inside its shell matches the value of dark energy seen in the universe today. "It's like we are living inside a giant dark energy star," Chapline says. There is, of course, no explanation yet for how a universe-sized star could come into being.

Now, that would imply a shell around our universe - surely not the "energy barrier" from ST:TOS????

Now if only I had my board, just to wax it or something...
Lou, I have vague memories of reading a book in recent years (by Michio Kaku, perhaps) that included a section which put forth the notion that it was impossible to say that the universe wasn't in fact located within the event horizon of a black hole, for similar (though distinct) reasons.

I'll admit that it took me a second to catch the surf board reference. I'm ashamed it took me even that long.
...And I even left the word "energy" out of Dark Energy Star as a further clue!

Though now it occurs to me it may only have been the galaxy that had an energy barrier in Trek.
The synopsis at for "Where No Man Has Gone Before" has it as the edge of the galaxy. Which is pretty silly, isn't it? God locked up at the center of the galaxy, and a crazy energy barrier that makes you a silver-eyed super-mutant at the edges.

But, come to that, didn't Diane Duane's The Wounded Sky kind of deal with the Enterprise crew journeying to the edge of the universe? Which itself sort of ended up as the basis for the first season TNG episode "Where No One Has Gone Before." I have only dim recollections of the episode being so-so (typical for the first season, really), but I remember my brain really being twisted into a new shape by Duane's novel when I read it as a kid.
The scaled back warpspeed for TNG, upon realizing that at the speed it was supposed to travel, you could cross the whole galaxy in seconds. But I sort of like the idea that it isn't distance that is the problem, but the amount of space between. On this, I wish Battlestar would get over the idea of a linear journey. It makes more sense that they could jump anywhere, but since there are just so many billions of star systems, pinpointing earth (or any habitable planet, or the Cylons finding them) isn't a matter of distance as it is of looking for needles in haystacks.
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