Yes, It's Possible to Safely Jump Into a Black Hole

In a new finding ripped from Interstellar, scientists say humans can indeed explore black holes firsthand. The catch? If you're going to jump into a black hole, don't plan on ever jumping back out into our universe.


“A human can do this only if the respective black hole is supermassive and isolated, and if the person entering the black hole does not expect to report the findings to anyone in the entire Universe,” Grinnell College physicists explain in a new article in The Conversation.


That’s because of special physics found in supermassive black holes, resulting in a combination of gravity and event horizon that wouldn’t instantaneously pull the human being into a very dead piece of spaghetti.


Because supermassive black holes are much bigger than stellar and intermediate black holes, all the parts of them are more spread out. A person falling in would make it to the event horizon—the border of the black hole beyond which not even light can escape, and where gravity is so strong that light will orbit the black hole like planets orbit stars—a lot sooner than in a smaller black hole.


As you approach the black hole’s event horizon, the huge difference in gravitational pull between your head and toes causes you to stretch into a spaghetti-like noodle.



The person would stay cognizant and intact for longer. But, of course, they would never emerge—making this a one-way rollercoaster ride of scientific discovery into oblivion.


Why does the math work this way? It’s a matter of facts about black holes of different sizes, the researchers say:


“For a black hole with a mass of our Sun (one solar mass), the event horizon will have a radius of just under 2 miles. The supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy, by contrast, has a mass of roughly 4 million solar masses, and it has an event horizon with a radius of 7.3 million miles or 17 solar radii. This implies, due to the closeness of the black hole's center, that the black hole's pull on a person will differ by a factor of 1,000 billion times between head and toe, depending on which is leading the free fall.”


This means avoiding “spaghettification” (really!) and a safe, gentle float past the event horizon.


Why does stuff go in but never come out? Well, scientists have only begun to understand the specific instances in which black holes eject energy or information—and that’s unlikely to ever take the form of a missive, or even Morse code message, from a disappearing astronaut. Those black holes are very old, for example, with different physics than this special case.


But, like in Interstellar, our imaginations reel at the idea of studying a black hole from the inside. Perhaps in some far future, someone will invent the right kind of tether to pull someone back out. And in that case, we can confirm some of the facts of life in a black hole, time dilation or not.


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