Tuesday, January 15, 2013

My Arthur C. Clark WTF moment

Artist's conception of a supermassive black hole
Okay, so last night after I got off work it was so cold that just getting out of my car makes my fingers numb. Right now as I type this, it is 12 degrees in Utah. Ick. Don't even bring up the inversion which is giving us red air quality.

Anyway, I crashed on the couch in anticipation of watching the premiere episode of Season 3's "Being Human" which I will talk about tomorrow. I flipped through the channels and ended up on the Science channel watching a special on supermassive black holes.

I'm not going to summarize the episode, but I get suckered into watching these specials because quite frankly, they're interesting.

They had this scientist guy on there and he said that they've discovered that the mass of every supermassive black hole that is at the center of every galaxy ever discovered (there's a lot) is exactly one-half of 1% of the total mass of the galaxy. It's the same everywhere.

I started to think about this and the book "2010" came to mind because there's this totally featureless thing called a monolith in Clark's book. The dimension of the black monolith is always the squares of 1, 2, and 3. So 1x4x9 no matter where they discover it.
So yeah, I had this whole "WTF" moment sitting on the couch and thought of the late Arthur C. Clarke.

I'm just going to say, our universe is really weird. Like stranger than anything that you could just "make up" if you just bother to look.

Today I'm stopping by Cindy Borgne's blog, "Dreamer's Perch." Cindy hasn't been feeling well so if you have the time, please drop by and say "Cindy I hope you get better soon" :). And Cindy is a fantastic blogging friend to have (and one of the most talented science fiction authors I've ever read). She is so supportive, reading blogs, reviewing books, and helping out other authors. I can't rave enough about her and if you aren't networking with Cindy, today is the day you should start. You will never regret it.


  1. The universe is indeed a strange and fascinating place!

  2. I get sucked into watching those sci-fi Universe programs too. I never specifically look for them, but I can't pass it up either.

    Welcome home Michael :)


  3. The universe always fascinated me. :-D

  4. So complex, nothing in the universe is chance.

  5. I love watching science shows like that.

  6. Oh Mike, that is so sweet of you. Thanks for thinking of me. :)

  7. Yeah, I can get sucked into watching stuff like that too. Usually it's a history show, though. I'm fascinated by the past.

  8. I wouldn't worry too much about that stuff. The rules are changing all the time. The other day I read an article about a cluster of quasars they discovered that theoretically should not have existed. The point of the article is that the universe is much larger than scientists previously thought. So all those black hole measurements are just estimates and are probably wrong.

  9. Of course, this is more than my mind can absorb. I have the same kind of fascination for the strange stuff on Discovery and FitTV.

  10. heh
    I'm talking about space today, too. Did you see that they discovered an even bigger black hole (or think they have) that's probably nearly as big as our whole galaxy?

  11. I concur! I love watching those shows - or I did when I had satellite - and I love reading scifi, so much so that I'm actually writing scifi right now. Ok. Heading over to visit Cindy - thanks :)

  12. Universes, you've seen one, you've seen 'em all.


  13. How do they know the mass of every black hole is the same (assuming I read that right)? Really, how? That's got to be theory. Wouldn't you get sucked in if you tried to measure it up close? :)

  14. I get sucked into those shows too--LOVE them! The other day I was watching something about Ancient Aliens and hubby was making fun of me, but there is so much great fodder for stories in shows like that.

    Then I caught him actually listening and he turned to me and admitted the current topic WAS interesting. Even to a non scifi guy. :)

    Heading over to Cindy's now.

  15. My head spins when I read or watch programs about space and the universe. I read somewhere that when the universe stops expanding then everything will start to collapse on itself and time will run backwards. How do we know it isn't already?

  16. The dang universe, eternity and death thoughts haunt me every night at bed time. Ah well.

  17. I was re-reading Hawking's speech in Chile yesterday, and I thought of you. It was the one where he was on about how you can only know two things about black holes - their speed and their rotation. But then he brought up quantum particles, and how if a black hole was just the right size, some particles might be able to get out. Fascinating stuff.

  18. So weird... and I'm guessing the more you know, the weirder it gets...

    Maybe I need to start watching science channels! :-)

  19. Too right. The idea that truth is stranger than fiction is no lie.

  20. I hope that Cindy gets used to eating light. Also, not being edgy might help her.
    I hope that you get a chance to look at S.K Mahew's blog. She posted a trailer for a trilogy by a blogger author.

  21. So the gravity exerted by the black hole is what holds the galaxy together? Fascinating.

    Yeah, I love those shows too. They give me weird ideas.

  22. I was watching a few clips of symphony of science with my kids and no matter how many times I watch them, (and I don't care how corny they may seem I still think they're awesome, especially the ones with Brian Cox-yummy(; ) I always get the holy s*** chills. I agree with Neil deGrasse Tyson, I think we're probably too stupid to truly comprehend the universe.

  23. I love the idea of space and time meeting somewhere in a black hole. Fascinating universe. I'll check out Cindy's blog and wish her well. Thanks.

  24. @L.G.: I know, right?

    @Donna: Thanks Donzie

    @Misha: Agreed

    @Alex: I think there's plenty of chance in the universe. As a caveat, I wish there weren't. But I never get what I want.

    @Brinda: Me too.

    @Cindy: You're welcome dearie!

    @L.G.: Are you watching Downton Abbey?

    @P.T.: I'm not so much "worried" as I am fascinated by Clark's prediction that things in the universe have certain properties, even when they are as ambiguous as a supermassive black hole.

    @Joy: LOL

    @Andrew: I commented on your post. Great stuff.

    @Mshatch: Thanks for stopping by.

    @Moody: Said with much snark.

    @Tonja: They use math.

    @Charity: LOL great personal anectdote.

    @Stephen: Good point.

    @Suz: My sentiments exactly.

    @MacNish: You are so learned.

    @faraway: mmmhmm

    @Morgan: The weirdest thing in the world are red-heads that like science.

    @Donna: It certainly seems that way.

    @Munir: I do too. I will check out that blog.

    @Liz: Pmuch yes.

    @Elise: Oh you're a Brian Cox fan, eh? I really like Bear Grylls.

    @Desert: Thanks for visiting!

  25. @Michael, Grylls...nice. But I'm still a big Cox fan...wow that sounds totally not right. xD

  26. Our universe is totally weird, and will just get weirder the more we find. I love it.

  27. Strange coincidence: I watched a bit of that on Science Channel last night. It was too distracting as I was writing, though, and I turned it off. Reality is always stranger than fiction. Wish I were a Q so I could see it all!

  28. Good stuff, I just finished reading 2001 and enjoyed it a great deal. Of course, I've read and enjoyed several other of Clarke's books so that doesn't really surprise me.

    But I thought the mass of the Milky Way's supermassive black hole was only a few million solar masses - that would be way less than half of 1% of the mass of he galaxy. If it were 10 million solar masses that would make it, what, .001 the mass of the galaxy itself.

    Damn, I should just google the stupid thing.

  29. The Universe, Coincidences, Truth, Life, Stranger than Fiction could ever be, yet so much is mirrored and even predicted within.

  30. I so sympathize with you on going numb in cold weather. The nasty cold snap is just now easing up a little here in Denver.

    Sometimes I watch the science shows, but usually I find myself lured into history and archeology ones - I'm a real sucker for them.

  31. Our universe is a strange, strange space. It never ceases to surprise me.

  32. Things like this do scare me because it leads me along the lines of "who the f*** thought of this?" or "how could that possibly happen?" I'm pretty sure the majority of these thoughts stem from me being a writer who worldbuilds and reads about worlds others have built.