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Why SpaceX Won't Turn Us Into A Multi-planetary Species

Anyone announcing the successful sale of tourist trips around the moon would attract ridicule and...

Rational Suckers

Why do people skip queues, cause traffic jams, and create delays for everyone? Who are these misbehaving ...

Triple Or Bust: Paradox Resolved

A few days ago I discussed the coin toss game ‘triple or bust‘. The game is between Alice and...

Paradox: Triple Or Bust

Today I have a decision problem for you....

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Johannes KoelmanRSS Feed of this column.

I am a Dutchman, currently living in India. Following a PhD in theoretical physics (spin-polarized quantum systems*) I entered a Global Fortune 500 company where I am currently Chief Scientist

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So, is it or is it not possible? Can black holes be split?

In my last blog I demonstrated that the laws of thermodynamics forbid the splitting of a single black hole. However, I also demonstrated the same laws don't forbid the splitting of a pair of black holes into many.

This leaves the door wide open for splitting black holes by smashing them together.

Or does it?
Ask a physicist how to split a black hole, and you will receive the reply "That's impossible". Ask for further clarification, and you will get a lecture on black hole thermodynamics.
Black holes are again hitting the headlines. Another record super massive black hole has been unveiled. This time it is galaxy NGC 1277 at the center of which a true monster is discovered to be lurking. Dutch astronomer Remco van den Bosch and co-workers weighed the black hole at the center of this galaxy. They did so by interpreting the stellar kinematics from velocity dispersion measurements obtained with the Marcario Low Resolution Spectrograph on the Hobby-Eberly Telescope at the McDonald Observatory in Austin, Texas. They came to the conclusion that the giant weighs in at 17 billion suns.
In the history of statistics, economy and decision theory, the St. Petersburg paradox plays a key role. This lottery problem goes back a full three centuries to the mathematician Nicolas Bernoulli who first formulated the problem in 1713. Twenty five years later, in 1738, his nephew Daniel Bernoulli presented the problem to the Imperial Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg. That presentation not only gave the paradox its name, it also created a lot of commotion amongst mathematicians.
 
Scaling down the observable universe to make it fit within our moon's orbit, the Milky Way gets reduced to a village. We live close to the edge of this village, at a comfortable distance from the central marketplace, where a giant black hole is known to be lurking. 

Now, this peaceful picture is brutally disturbed by an international group of astronomers who bring us the message that a black hole of at least a hundred solar masses is likely to ambush us in our own backyard


Theta Orionis, a fuzzy star in Orion's sword harbouring a massive black hole?

Human thought has led to a variety of remarkable and profound insights. Many of these insights are well established and have been embraced by a significant portion of the global population.

The earth being round, the atomistic nature of matter, our unremarkable place in the universe, and us being a product of evolution, all being examples of such insights. Other insights, although unanimously embraced by experts, have a long way to go for a larger population to accept them. More than for any other subject, this holds for quantum physics. No other product of human thought is as profoundly mysterious as quantum theory.