So, what would happen if youfell into a black hole? For years scientists thought they knew how youwould meet your end. Imagine falling into the black hole feet first.
As yourfeet are closer to the black hole, they would feel a stronger gravitationalforce and will thus start to move faster than the rest of your body, causingyou to get stretched into a long noodle. Physicists call this process ‘spaghettification’.An analogy inspired by WilliamG. Unruh of the University of British Columbia, one of the pioneers in blackhole quantum mechanics, helps to explain the significance of this pull. Imaginesitting in a boat, carried along a river that leads towards a waterfall. If youare significantly far away from the cliff, you can easily row your boat tosafety. But once you get far enough downstream, no matter how fast you row yourboat in the opposite direction, you cannot escape the pull of the water.
Forblack holes, this ‘point of no return’ is called the event horizon and it isthe place beyond which nothing, not even light can escape. For most of the past century, thescientific community thought that the extreme gravitational pull would crush allthe matter that made up the black hole into a one-dimensional point, called asingularity which is not only incredibly massive, but also incredibly dense.The closer you are to this point, the stronger the gravitational attraction is.To begin to understand this controversy, we need to first understandwhat a black hole is. A black hole is aregion in space where the force of gravity is so strong that even light is not able to escape.
Although some black holes are thought to have formedin the early universe, soon after the big bang, most medium-sized black holes formwhen the center of a very massive star collapses in upon itself. One of the biggest paradoxes in physicstoday is one that sounds straight out of science fiction. What would happen ifyou fell into a black hole? Rest assured, the answer to this bizarre question is that you would die –that is not up for discussion. But it is how exactly you would die that is keepingphysicists up at night. There are currently two major theoriesfighting over this horrifying scenario and the outcome of this battle could revolutionizethe fundamental laws of our universe.