Broadcast 3187 Dr. Chris Impey

17 Sep 2018 Dr. Chris Impey
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Guest:  Dr. Chris Impey; Topics:  Black holes and his new book "Einstein's Monsters: The Life And Times Of Black Holes." 

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We welcomed back Dr. Chris Impey for a two part 88 minute discussion about black holes and his latest book, "Einstein's Monsters: The Life And Times Of Black Holes."  During the first segment, Dr. Impey introduced us to the subject of black holes plus he explained his interest in them and the reason for writing this excellent book. By the way, the book will be released in early November in time for the holidays and gift giving.  Having read an advanced media copy, I can tell you it is an excellent read. Very informative, also entertaining due to the stories Dr. Impey tells and full of rich scientific information about the topic and related topics.  If you buy the book through Amazon, be sure to use one of the OGLF/The Space Show programs so that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to TSS.  For information on this, please click on the large Amazon button near the center of our home page. 

Among the first segment topics discussed were detecting black holes, event horizon details, galaxy mergers including the Milky Way and Andromeda merger in the distant future, small black holds and the death of a star, giant or big black holes in the center of a galaxy, tiny event horizons making seeing them difficult, various black hole simulations, the creation of black holes, distances to and between black holes, the number of them in the Milky Way and elsewhere, and of course general relativity and Einstein.  There were multiple listener email questions on a variety of topics including Einstein dismissing black holes, the black hole nearest Earth, Cygnus X-1,  and the history leading up to and including the discovery of black holes.  Time travel with a black hole was also discussed as were worm holes and the folding of space for possible faster than light (FTL) travel which does not exist.  Don't miss what our guest had to say in this and the last segment regarding advanced propulsion and FTL. 

Listener Cathy asked Chris about gravity.  She wanted to know if there was a good theory explaining it or if there were still competing theories about the nature of gravity. Don't miss what Chris said about gravity and general relativity.  Paul wanted to know about black hole possible connections to or impact with exoplanets and the search for life in the universe.  Chris said there was no connection to biology and that in fact a black hole was actually an anti-life place.  Another listener wanted to know if the big space telescopes like Hubble and the upcoming JWST could see them.  Chris explained why it would be hard to see them, stressing how tiny an event horizon is with a normal blackhole.  Before the first segment ended one of our listeners sent in an email asking if Mr. Musk could be right in that we live in a simulation.  Chris was familiar with the theory and told us who formulated the idea.  Our guest did not agree with the idea we were living in a simulation but listen to all of what he said on this.  Let us know your thoughts by posting them on our blog for this show.

In the second segment, Chris started out talking about Big Black Holes or as they are known in science, Super Massive Black Holes.  I asked Chris what distinguished a big black hole from a regular black hole.  Chris gave us the physical characteristic that help us understand the different between an ordinary black hole and one of these very big black holes.  Listen carefully to the numbers he provided.  The differences were staggering. 

Another topic that was addressed in the second segment was how the universe was organized with all the laws and rules of physics, etc.  Chris provided some interesting information on this subject by talking about natural laws and the Big Bang.  He also said that when experiments have been done using powerful computers just putting in a basic format for the early universe and letting the computer evolve it, it evolves to something very similar to what we have today with the laws, rules, etc.  This was fascinating information so don't miss it. 

Henry in Dallas sent in a note asking if the black hole radiation could negatively impact human spaceflight.  Again, don't miss all of what Chris said but for the most part he said no given the huge distances to a distant  black hole.  We also talked advanced propulsion, EmDrive, Mach Thrusters and more. Chris had interesting comments about the potential for partial speed of light travel at say 10% the speed of light. He considered beyond that to be fringe proposals for FTL travel. He also addressed relativistic travel and the idea of New Physics.  He talked about the need to put all of this to the test but that may be challenging.  Don't miss this part of our conversation and note why it might prove challenging to test out theories.  Also note why such testing efforts are not being worked on.

As we were nearing an end to our discussion, Chris was asked about the life expectancy of a black hole. He talked about thermodynamics and the temperature of a black hole known as Hawking radiation which he said could not be tested as we have no technology that will allow us to do that.  He did talk about the life expectancy of a black hole which can be a very long time.  A student in Boulder at CU asked Chris for the career and academic path to being able to do the type of work Chris was talking about today.  He wanted to know what part was learned in grad school as compared to on the job training.  Chris had much to say about the study of physics, academic programs and path plus on the job training.  Don't miss it.  Before we ended, we took a question about seeing the birth of a black hole, seeing small ones due to radiation, super novas and seeing past light not current light.  For example, the super nova may be 500 light years ago. That is all we can see.  We can simulate to today but the simulation might not be very accurate. 

Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog for this page.  You can reach Dr. Impey through me or his University of Arizona faculty page.

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