PBS NOVA presents new special on black holes (especially Sagittarius A); microbes on Proxima B? “High Life”?

great Sunset, northern VA

Wednesday night (that’s Aug. 2, 2022, “Juan Soto + 1”), PBS NOVA aired (52 min): “NOVA Universe Revealed: Black Holes” (link).

Our own galaxy has a large black hole, Sagittarius A at the center.  (Yes, “The Archer” from astrology.) According to the documentary, the black hole emits a huge bidirectional laser jet every few million years.  The jet can blow away the atmospheres of any rocky planets in any solar systems within a certain distance of thousands of light years.  It does not affect the whole galaxy, however (Earth has had an atmosphere for four billion years; Mars wasn’t so lucky; it’s called “having a magnetic field” and being big enough). 

PBS Nova: Black Holes (Apocalypse)

The film showed what a voyager would see as the visitor approaches the Event Horizon.  Time speeds up, and the skies give a psychedelic light show.  Once across the horizon, you are spaghettified (and depilated for competitive swimming, haha — remember all those “no hair” theorems in quantum theory).  But it seems that maybe somehow your consciousness still exists?  Can experience still happen?  Can you go to another universe and start over? Just, maybe.

Space Time YT: Could the Universe live inside a black hole?

The documentary also covers the topic of Hawking radiation, as a black hole slowly evaporates (much like snow in a sunny area on a day where the air temperature is still below freezing).  Information caught in a black hole (theorized to be stored on its spherical surface, as if it were a galactic SDS hard drive to store the memories of souls’ lives) could be release, for future sentient beings to unscramble (or decrypt), as if the black hole provided the ultimate SSH security.  Eventually the black hole is replaced by nothing. But black holes could end with “white hole” explosions (new big bangs) in a kind of cosmic “survival of the fittest”. (Many universes won’t have the same forces; a “weakless” universe (without the weak force) could not have nuclear weapons but could conceivably have life, according to an older essay I saw one time in, I think, Scientific American.)

Could there exist a huge black hole in the Bootes Void?  Or is it covered up by aliens? (A Dyson structure measuring light-years across?)

PBS had a similar film in 2018, called “Black Hole Apocalypse” (trailer above).

Recently there have been many videos reporting that NASA’s Webb telescope has found artificial light on -planet Proxima B.  This may turn out to be something natural (rather than a Shanghai-like mega-city:  yes, China seems like the super-advanced “alien” culture on our own planet).  But it is plausible that prokaryotic bacteria-like life could have developed the ability to fend of radiation from the star’s outbursts by converting its frequency and emitting visible light.  It’s unlikely you can get a posh hotel room with wifi and social media on Proxima B.  You can in China.

Space Matters film on Proxima B

In 2018, A24 (of course!) released a sci-fi film “High Life”, about a space-flight constantly accelerating (providing artificial gravity thereby) toward a black hole.  The flight contains condemned prisoners (one is played by Robert Pattisson) and is supervised by a doctor-researcher Dibs played by Juliette Binoche. I guess the ultimate conclusion is to go inside the black hole and find out what it will be like.

High Life black hole crossover scene at end

The movie ends quietly, like Vaughn Williams’s Symphony 6 or Bartok’s last string quartet (some other time we can discuss them; look them up now on YouTube as an assignment from me!).

(Posted: Thursday, August 4, 2022 at 11:30 AM EDT)