Black holes have a scary name, and it’s somewhat fitting: They’re dead stars, floating in space, with such powerful gravitational force not even light can escape it. Obviously, the Earth being sucked into one would a disaster and end all human life. Or maybe not, according to new research.
Here’s the deal: According to string theory, black holes are essentially giant wads of cosmic strings, one-dimensional imperfections resulting from the universe being made, to oversimplify it to a ridiculous degree. It’s called the “fuzzball theory” and it helps scientists reconcile a few problems with black holes.
Currently, though, researchers are split into two camps. One camp maintains that if you touch a black hole, you will run into a firewall. That’s not a metaphor: The theory is that the black hole tears apart the matter it absorbs, creating what amounts to a wall of heat that obliterates anything it touches in nanoseconds. The only reason it’s not a literal wall of fire is that there’s no oxygen to burn.
The creator of the fuzzball theory, Samir Mathur, proposes a different idea. You don’t fall into a black hole; you fall onto a black hole, and turn into a hologram. Actually, there’s a big argument in physics right now about whether or not the entire universe is a hologram sitting on a surface with many more dimensions, possibly a baseball card. Essentially, if that theory is right, it’s likely we wouldn’t even notice touching a black hole. We might be on the surface of one now.
Granted, all of this is extremely theoretical; until we get into space, find a black hole, and throw a wrench at it or something, we’re not going to be able to actually test these theories. Until then, don’t worry about black holes. According to physics, either way, you won’t notice.