Cosmic Coincidence

Almost exactly a year ago, I began writing one of my third novel’s introductory chapters. I am sharing a sample of that chapter at this time because of what seems to me to be a recently discovered coincidence.

“A person can be born, grow old and die, but his or her energy goes on, somehow. It may not be recognizable, but physics says it must be that way. Even a universe is born, grows for a seeming eternity, yet eventually, it too must die. Some say in its end, there is a new beginning.

Dr. Peter Green knew those facts better than most. As an astrophysicist working with colossal machines of physics research at CERN, Switzerland, machines that have the power to peer into the beginning of the universe, he’d often thought about not just the beginning, but the ending, the ending that precedes what comes next.

His specialty was dark matter, and something perhaps related, dark energy. We can’t see either, but physics says they must exist for the universe to be what it is.

Either that, or physics is wrong, and neither Green nor his scientist colleagues had ever found physics to be in error.

But he did wonder, if a universe dies, does it leave behind a ghost, unseen but somehow there, with mass that exists at grand scales, but nonexistent at human scales?

And if so, must not the nature of our universe, the shape of our galaxies, depend on an ever-growing graveyard of dead stars, galaxies — and people?

Where does it end? Well, it doesn’t, not really. At least that’s how Dr. Peter Green saw it.”

Arguably, that’s a pretty unconventional thought, Dr. Green had, even for cosmologists who, as a whole, are renowned for unconventional thinking. And at the time that I wrote it, I thought it was a good way to illustrate that the character Peter Green was brilliant, but a bit odd.

Well, he is odd no longer.

I say that because just today I saw a LiveScience article, from which I quote:

“Physicists have found what could be evidence of ‘ghost’ black holes from a universe that existed before our own.

The remarkable claim centers around the detection of traces of long-dead black holes in the cosmic microwave background radiation – a remnant of the birth of our universe.

According to a group of high-profile theoretical physicists including Oxford’s Roger Penrose (Ph.D. in mathematical physics), these traces represent evidence of a cyclical universe – one in which the universe has no inherent end or beginning but is formed, expands, dies, then repeats over and over for all eternity.

Roger Penrose

“If the universe goes on and on and the black holes gobble up everything, at a certain point, we’re only going to have black holes,” Penrose told Live Science. “Then what’s going to happen is that these black holes will gradually, gradually shrink.”

 When the black holes finally disintegrate, they will leave behind a universe filled with massless photons and gravitons which do not experience time and space.

 Some physicists believe that this empty, post-black hole universe will resemble the ultra-compressed universe that preceded the Big Bang – thus the entire cycle will begin anew.

 If the cyclical universe theory is true, it means that the universe may have already existed a potentially infinite number of times and will continue to cycle around and around forever.

Penrose is clearly one of the great minds of the world, as you can perhaps appreciate from this YouTube clip.

As a reminder, this is also what the fictional cosmologist in the upcoming novel, Atmosphere, believed.

“He did wonder, if a universe dies, does it leave behind a ghost, unseen but somehow there, with mass that exists at grand scales, but nonexistent at human scales? And if so, must not the nature of our universe, the shape of our galaxies, depend on an ever-growing graveyard of dead stars, galaxies — and people?

Where does it end? Well, it doesn’t, not really.” 

Pretty interesting coincidence, don’t you think?

Read the LiveScience article here.

The Google Generation and College Life

300px-BH_LMCI was recently reminded that almost everyone who is literate and has access to a computer and Internet connection has used Google to find something of interest to them.

The way I was reminded of that was from Google Analytics which gives me feedback on this blog. Over a period of a few days I witnessed a curious rise in the number of hits on a tongue-in-cheek description of a faux energy company (Cosmic Capacity Corporation) that purportedly sells personal black holes.

Typically, the draw of a sample of my dry humor is low. So why should there be a rapid uptick in interest?

Well, I’m just as mindful of national security as the next person, so as I witnessed the first wave of unexpected interest my thoughts were that bad people were trying to expand their knowledge of potentially dangerous devices. After all, anything that could make most anything disappear, and if detected, evaporate itself beyond all trace of detectability must be of interest to criminals.

But whoever they were, they weren’t stupid: they caught on quickly that the posting was a ruse. Stay time was approximately 30 sec.

However, over the period of a week, the numbers continued rising, and then fell just as quickly back to their normal near-dormancy levels. Something strange was going on.

A Gaussian curve-fit to the Google Analytics data, January 20 – 28, 2013.

The limited data I have points to a total of 333 hits occurring with an approximately Gaussian (normal, Bell-shaped curve) frequency between January 21 and 27.

With that realization, I may have now solved the mystery. When I looked at the timing and shape of the rise and fall, a memory was triggered of college student life.


From Click to go to the link.

I have no way of knowing if this is true, but let’s assume that on Monday the 21st, over 300 students attended the first of the week’s Monday, Wednesday, Friday classes on introductory science in a large University. The lecture hall was packed when the professor announced that a paper on Personal Black Holes was due on Monday week.

On that day (Monday) ten students hit Google and immediately found my blog posting on Personal Black Holes. The next day 25 students hit the site followed on Wednesday (perhaps encouraged by a reminder in class) and Thursday by a much larger group of students. On Friday, 35 procrastinators did the same thing.

I don’t think I would be wrong to suggest that after a Friday night spent in college recreation, Saturday was a day of hangovers and recovery. (Yes, I am speaking from personal experience.) No one hit my site on Saturday, and I imagine the majority were resting, or perhaps writing.

On Sunday, it appears that three late-bloomers hit the site, and the rest were preparing their paper for Monday.

Early Monday morning, one desperate procrastinator hit the site. I can just imagine the student screaming, “You have got to be kidding! This is a joke?”

Yes, it was a joke, a fact the average student figured out in 39 seconds before moving on.

Government and industry is constantly pressing for metrics,  ways to measure business success other than from sales. The problem with metrics is that figuring out what to do with the numbers is not always obvious . What do they represent?

Since my site is not a business, and does not earn me a cent, I normally pay no attention to its metrics.  However, this time, after moving beyond my initial alarm, I felt that I might be gaining insight into the hidden “research” trends of young college students. As a scientist, that intrigues me.

It would be more intriguing if someone discovered that A students were the first to turn to Google for answers. I’m sure Google would find that satisfying.

It could of course be just the opposite. Perhaps top students hit the library first and then follow up with Google search as a last check. Actually, that result would surprise me, but arguably it cannot be ruled out.

Lastly, it could be that my college class hypothesis is completely wrong. It could be that Chechen rebels were exploring ways to solve their political/military problem, but somehow I doubt it.

As we scientists are trained to say, more research is needed.






Frequently Asked Questions About Personal Black Holes

Thank-you for contacting Cosmic Capacity Corporation’s FAQ regarding our popular Personal Black Hole Product.

1. The price of your product seems astronomical. Will there be equally large maintenance fees?

As they say, if you have to ask, you can’t afford it. But keep in mind, science has shown that if your PBH is not properly maintained it will disappear due to Hawking radiation.

2. Why do you only show artist’s conceptions of the PBH?

It is microscopic. That is the only way to make sure the PBH remains safe for the environment. And of course, CCC is an environmentally mindful enterprise.

3. I need the highest level of security for shredding sensitive documents. Will the PBH provide that?

There is no higher security. Once in, there is no coming out.

4. Our local landfill is filling up. Can I lease my PBH to my local municipality for garbage disposal?

You can within reason. Too much garbage input will cause uncontrolled growth of the Black Hole, and as you must understand, that would be undesirable.

5. The hardware front-in to the PBH supposedly limits the amount of feeding of the PBH I can do. Is that hardware reliable, and can it be defeated?

Any attempts to defeat it will cause a transitory swelling of the PBH, just enough to consume whatever is attempting to tamper with the device. Again, physics dictate that the swelling will be both limited and transient. Of course the device will be consumed in the process and your investment will be lost.

6. Why is there such a prolonged security review for any potential CCC customers?

CC Corp has to be satisfied that criminal elements are not purchasing our equipment for nefarious purposes, such as body and evidence disposal. While our device is obviously ideal for that purpose, we would be negligent to not screen, within the limits of the law, all potential customers.

7. If say, a government entity, were to use your device to dispose of weapons and munitions, would that process be safe?

The physically catastrophic events occurring at the event horizon make safe any material entering it. For Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) questions, please contact our military sales representative.

8. I have heard that black holes may spawn other universes. If so, are there security concerns associated with that?

Well, as they say, “Garbage in, garbage out.” But security should not be your concern. Any universe spawned by human waste or discarded items is unlikely to be suitable for life as we know it.

9. The bullet riddled body of my traitorous Uncle Harry is unlikely to become a star or something on the other side. Right?

Why do you ask? Who are you?