Black holes: Crushing vortexes of darkness that promise to shred each and every atom in your body to oblivion, right? Maybe not. New theoretical work by researchers at the Institute of Corpuscular Physics hints that it might be possible to escape the journey into a black hole with all of your cells intact. The bad news is, you'd probably still die... and you'd wind up in another universe. Image: NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center/Flickr
One of the major hang-ups in black hole physics is understanding what's happening at the very centre, in a region known as the gravitational singularity. Here, space and time stretch toward infinity and the normal laws of physics no longer apply.
The new study offers a solution to this baffling situation, by treating black holes as objects with crystal-like structures, and singularities as tiny geometric defects. Using this model, the researchers obtained a mathematical description of a black hole wherein the centre is actually a tiny, spherical surface. This, they say, can be interpreted as a wormhole.
Hypothetically, a person could enter said wormhole, but not before being stretched by the black hole's extreme tidal forces into a long, thin, human spaghetti. (The technical term for this phenomenon is "spaghettification".) After passing through the singularity into another universe, you'd bounce back to your normal size, feeling no worse for the wear than if you got tossed in a meat grinder and remoulded into a horrifying likeness of your former self. In other words, you'd almost certainly die.
Of course, the best way to test the hypothesis that black holes are actually giant spaghetti machines to another universe is to send a test subject in. Anybody you'd like to nominate?