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Black Holes Grow By Eating Quantum Foam

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the om-nom-nom dept.

Space 164

An anonymous reader writes "The discovery that even the most distant galaxies have supermassive black holes at their cores is a puzzle for astrophysicists. These objects must have formed relatively soon after the Big Bang. But if a galaxy is only a billion years old and contains a black hole that is a billion times more massive than the Sun, how did it get so big, so quickly? Now one cosmologist says he has the answer: black holes feed off the quantum foam that makes up the fabric of spacetime. This foam is 'nourishing' because it contains quantum black holes that can contribute to the black hole's growth. This idea leads to a prediction: that the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way must also be growing in this way and at a rate that we should be able to measure. Just watch out for the burps."

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foist pwost! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44823631)

we're gonna need a bigger ringworld!

Re:foist pwost! (3, Funny)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about a year ago | (#44823665)

we're gonna need a bigger ringworld!

Quantum foam leaving a ring around the cosmic tub?

This is a job for Doug Adams, not Larry Niven!

Re:foist pwost! (1)

asliarun (636603) | about a year ago | (#44823989)

Actually, I feel a Stephen Baxter book coming. If only he would stop writing about dang mammoths.
Sorry for the OT.

Re:foist pwost! (1)

AlphaWoIf_HK (3042365) | about a year ago | (#44824403)

So... what do you think of the quantum foam that makes up the fabric of spacetime? The scientificness of such a thing is astounding, yes?

Quantum foam? (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about a year ago | (#44823657)

I thought supermassive black holes grew by sucking superstars into them.

Re:Quantum foam? (4, Funny)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about a year ago | (#44823803)

No. Those are "groupies".

Re:Quantum foam? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44823817)

Those superstars are foam-filled.

Re:Quantum foam? (0)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year ago | (#44824087)

I think they grow by eating quantum popcorn, while watching the quantum movies.

Their quantum mother slaps them when they try to chew on the quantum foam.

Re:Quantum foam? (0)

Delarth799 (1839672) | about a year ago | (#44824613)

They become black holes by eating quantum foam. They become supermassive by eating the superstar's ego.

ride that quantum foam (1)

ozduo (2043408) | about a year ago | (#44823677)

all the way through the hole onto the next galaxy

Mass vs Size (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44823679)

I saw something like this on the Science Channel last night and today I read this.
"... a black hole that is a billion times more massive than the Sun, how did it get so big, so quickly?"
Why do people equate mass with size?
Just curious...

Re:Mass vs Size (4, Funny)

Russ1642 (1087959) | about a year ago | (#44823733)

Why do people equate mass with size? Because they've met your mom.

Re:Mass vs Size (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44824979)

A wise man once said, "The mass of the ass is inversely proportional to the angle of the dangle."

Unless you're Sir Mix-A-Lot, then it's a dirty lie propagated by Cosmo.

Fitting CAPTCHA: "playboy"

Re:Mass vs Size (5, Informative)

boristhespider (1678416) | about a year ago | (#44823829)

In the case of a black hole? Because the radius of the event horizon - which is one of the easiest definitions of the "size" of a black hole - grows monotonically with the mass. You can see it from Newtonian physics; if you look at the distance at which a "particle" travelling at the speed of light can't escape from a body with mass M you find it grows linearly with M. It turns out, rather coincidentally, that this coincides with the event horizon of a Schwarzschild hole, which is a black hole which is perfectly spherical (ie non-rotating), uncharged black hole.

(I went looking for a reference but I gave up quickly. Basically take Newton's gravitational law, F=GMm/r^2 for a large body of mass M and an orbiting (test) body of mass m. A particle of velocity c moving in a circular orbit is experiencing a radial force of F=mv^2/r=mc^2/r. (This is the centrifugal force, and to head of pedants, in the frame of the particle it is very much experienced even if in an inertial frame it is evidently fictional.) Equating these two you quickly find GM/r=c^2, or r=GM/c^2. This is the Schwarzschild radius.)

Re:Mass vs Size (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44823967)

Fail, off by a factor of two for the classical answer.

And first link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Escape_velocity

Re:Mass vs Size (1)

boristhespider (1678416) | about a year ago | (#44824097)

oh whatever, a factor of two compared to entirely the wrong answer... it gives some intuition, at least. feel free to log on and mod me overrated :)

Re:Mass vs Size (4, Insightful)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | about a year ago | (#44824251)

In astronomy, all that matters is being within a factor of 10. :P

Re:Mass vs Size (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44824513)

Or a factor of 10^^100, in the case of our measurement of the background temperature of space. Amazing how confident we are, with Google-sized errors staring back at us.

Re:Mass vs Size (4, Informative)

boristhespider (1678416) | about a year ago | (#44824559)

The background temperature of space is 2.7K, measured to exquisite accuracy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmic_Background_Explorer). You might be referring to the dark energy problem, which is pretty much ill-defined, meaning we don't actually have an explanation or, indeed, even an agreement on the size of the discrepancy (which is commonly quoted as 10^120 but is actually much nearer 10^60... not that that's good.) Although you're likely referring to the string landscape, where you can get something like 10^10^100 unique vacua, or more, or maybe a few more than that, or a few more again. Which while the dark energy problem is ill-defined at least it's related - via a few assumptions, to be fair - to observation. The string landscape is entirely theoretical and relies on you accepting both string theory and the arguments that lead to the landscape - and those are much more controversial than the simple statement that the standard cosmological model does not work without a surprisingly large quantity that acts more or less like a dark energy.

Re:Mass vs Size (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44825227)

"commonly quoted as 10^120 but is actually much nearer 10^60"

Yes I was thinking of the 10^^120 number. Now we have narrowed it down to either 10^^120 or 10^^60 -- near enough from astrophysical work. Thanks for the correction :-).

Re:Mass vs Size (3, Informative)

marcosdumay (620877) | about a year ago | (#44826045)

That number is called "googol", not "google".

Re:Mass vs Size (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year ago | (#44824563)

Being inside a factor of 10 in mathematics matters most as well, 10 Erdos that is.

Re:Mass vs Size (2)

TapeCutter (624760) | about a year ago | (#44824887)

Yes, but "off by a factor of two" is considered accurate for cosmology.

Re:Mass vs Size (2)

omnichad (1198475) | about a year ago | (#44826113)

Works for NASA anyway...well...almost [cnn.com] .

Re:Mass vs Size (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44824041)

With one difference though: Once you apply GTR equations, the r is twice the value you get from Newtonian calculations.

Re:Mass vs Size (3, Informative)

boristhespider (1678416) | about a year ago | (#44824119)

Yes, true. But like I said to the other AC who made the same (totally valid - people with mod points might want to mod these people informative, btw, so those who ignore ACs might see it) point, it's close enough for government work and it's good intuition.

But yes, both of you are right, the Newtonian calculation isn't entirely right. I should have thought a bit more carefully about what I was saying.

Re:Mass vs Size (1)

brantondaveperson (1023687) | about a year ago | (#44824777)

Head off pedants

You're welcome ;)

Re:Mass vs Size (1)

boristhespider (1678416) | about a year ago | (#44824803)

haha two whacking mistakes in a post that claimed it wanted to avoid pedants. i have to try harder in future...

Re:Mass vs Size (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44823875)

Next time you have a thought? Let it go.

Re:Mass vs Size (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44824439)

Actually here they're specifically talking about mass since it's about the only property of black holes we can measure

Re:Mass vs Size (1)

boristhespider (1678416) | about a year ago | (#44824493)

Indeed, given that black holes famously have no hair, we can't find anything more than mass, angular momentum and charge.

And, as you say, right now we have very little chance of measuring the angular momentum or charge of a black hole, while the mass is relatively straightforward...

Re:Mass vs Size (0)

sconeu (64226) | about a year ago | (#44824981)

What if the black hole swallowed a really really large amount of Rogaine? Would it still have no hair?

[Yes, I know what Thorne and Hawking meant by the original phrase. Deal with it]

Con CERN (1)

wrackspurt (3028771) | about a year ago | (#44823689)

CERN scientists suggested they might create miniature black holes whilst looking for the Higgs Boson particle. There was some concern of the hypothetical danger creation of such black holes might pose. Now are we positing the first black holes of the universe fed off just such Quantum foam stuff?

Re:Con CERN (1)

boristhespider (1678416) | about a year ago | (#44823839)

I'm not sure there are many supermassive black holes in our vicinity, so I think we're probably safe.

Re:Con CERN (1)

geekoid (135745) | about a year ago | (#44824053)

" There was some concern of the hypothetical danger creation of such black holes might pose.
not my anyone who know WTF they where talking about.

Re:Con CERN (3, Interesting)

It doesn't come easy (695416) | about a year ago | (#44824387)

Actually, it kind of fits if you bring all of the intelligent guesswork together. I read somewhere that the tiny tiny tiny black holes (possibly) created by the LHC would evaporate (due to Hawking Radiation) at an exponentially accelerating rate -- the more mass they lost the faster they would loose more, ending in a quantum sized obliterating explosion. If true, and if this new idea is correct as well, that would imply that there is a perfect point where the mass evaporation from Hawking Radiation would *just* equal the mass accumulation from consuming quantum foam. If the black hole mass starts out greater than this point then the black hole grows, less and it shrinks. Someone ought to be able to calculate (roughly?) the magical amount of mass needed to produce a pseudo-stable black hole...

Re:Con CERN (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44825391)

Why calculate when you can find it experimentally. Think of the fun!

Re:Con CERN (5, Interesting)

TapeCutter (624760) | about a year ago | (#44825009)

There was some concern of the hypothetical danger creation of such black holes might pose.

More concerning to me was the uninformed speculation that lead to those concerns. As one physicist quipped here on Slashdot at the time, "You misunderstand what motivates physicists. If the LHC did get sucked up by a mini black hole we would not run from the building in fear, we would run towards it with notebooks at hand".

Re:Con CERN (1)

TrollstonButterbeans (2914995) | about a year ago | (#44825785)

Doesn't a black hole have to have enough mass that even light can't escape?

If a massive star can't do this, how would there be really small "mini" black holes?

Either it can stop light from escaping (therefore it is incredibly massive) or it can't (therefore it is not black).

If you see my angle here ...

Re:Con CERN (1)

aXis100 (690904) | about a year ago | (#44826197)

It's not the total mass.... it's how tightly that mass is compressed. For a black hole it so tight that it becomes a tiny point - a sigularity. Now, since gravity depends on both mass and distance, there is a relatively small radius around that singularity where gravitational forces become extreme.

You cant do the same thing with an active star. Even at the surface, too much of the star's material is too far away to cause enough gravity to trap light. If you go further and go tunnel inside a star, the material above you acts in the oposite direction and cances out some of the gravitational pull. You can never get those same extreme forces.

Fallacy of the converse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44823697)

"If P, then Q; Q, therefore P" has always countered the initial pleasure I feel when something is said to be newly understood in this way. "If black holes eat quantum foam, then they'd be like what we see today; Q therefore P."

Is there something in this prediction that nails down the cause of what we with black holes today see better than this sort of reasoning?

Re:Fallacy of the converse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44823833)

Welcome to inductive reasoning. There are several deductive logic fallacies that no longer are a fallacy in a world of limited resources and information, where exhaustive searches and tests are impossible.

Re:Fallacy of the converse (1)

Pseudonym Authority (1591027) | about a year ago | (#44823913)

This man has read `Logic for Dummies'; please do not disillusion him with things beyond his understanding before he has a chance to shout `correlation does not equal causation' about this.

Re:Fallacy of the converse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44824673)

You don't understand the problem of underdetermination?

Re:Fallacy of the converse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44824713)

The existence of practical limitations does not make a theory stronger...

Re:Fallacy of the converse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44824907)

Reasoning and methods that can't handle practical limitations are useless for the vast majority of fields. Unless you want to go back to trying to work out how the universe works without any observation, you have to accept there are limitations to our observations, and acknowledge them. Every statement as such can be mentally prefixed with ,"To the best of our knowledge," and kept in mind for newer things that it is discussing a possibility, not absolutes. Just don't assume because such wording is not there it is not implied, because explicitly stating that would produce documents way too verbose, with little actual content.

Re:Fallacy of the converse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44825007)

We have ways of reasoning that deal with the failure of deductive logic to help us. It is to develop multiple theories that predict ever more specific events from different sets of background knowledge. Theories that do that you can trust. Ad hoc theories are useful for hypothesis formation but are not to be taken seriously as explaining the world around us. The correct answer to the question the parent AC asked is "no, we do not have anything better, this is purely speculative" . Looking at the Arvix paper it seems like the author would agree that these are speculative claims.

Re:Fallacy of the converse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44825567)

We have ways of reasoning that deal with the failure of deductive logic to help us.

Yes, called inductive reasoning.

The correct answer to the question the parent AC asked is

That wasn't intended as an answer to the AC's question at all. It was a snarky to the first half of the original post which hints at a much more fundamental misunderstanding that would not be addressed by just answering a question about this particular story. If the question was the only relevant part, then why was the first half even said originally?

Re:Fallacy of the converse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44825693)

I would expect because it explains the ACs chain of reasoning back to as fundamental principles as possible. There is nothing wrong with this. Perhaps introducing formal logic into scientific discussions is part of some creationist strategy so people now get defensive about it. Basically, I don't understand what the problem is with that post.

Also inductive reasoning encompasses a vast range of weak to strong approaches. Weak is as the AC implied he understood the current state of this theory to be, based purely on affirming the consequent (actually this is a case of adductive reasoning). Strong is to predict something before hand and witness it play out. Stronger if multiple independent parties who have reason to disprove each other come to same conclusion. Until the predictions play out this one is only speculative.

Re:Fallacy of the converse (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | about a year ago | (#44826077)

Very true. And all theories about the real world are either false or undecidable.

Now, at the real world, we like to qualify that undecidable set.

Re:Fallacy of the converse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44826287)

Why are people so defensive about mentioning the problems with inductive reasoning? It is a real issue. It is hard to account for every other explanation. It is what it is.

Isn't this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44823727)

What Stephen Hawking stated when he said, virtual Partical/Anti-particles pop into existence due to vacuum pressure of space, normally they recombine back into nothing but when they happen to emerge on either side of the event horizon they black hole eats one of them.

Re:Isn't this (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about a year ago | (#44823819)

How many of them fit on the head of a pin?

Re:Isn't this (4, Insightful)

boristhespider (1678416) | about a year ago | (#44823877)

No, it's actually close to the exact opposite, though both are quantum effects. In loose terms, Hawking's argument is that if you generate a pair of particles just outside of the black hole (which is allowed by the energy/time uncertainty principle so long as their lifetime - before they recollide - is short enough), and one falls through the event horizon and the other escapes, then they can *never* recombine -- and then you're left with a net negative energy. That negative energy has to come from somewhere, and it comes from the black hole. Which means that the black hole radiates energy -- Hawking radiation -- and eventually will evaporate.

The argument here is quite different, although it's still a quantum effect; instead of virtual pairs here, we simply have a black hole gobbling up unimaginably small black holes that foam in and out of existence. There is no net energy loss with these, and rather than losing mass/energy, the black hole *gains* it. I'd be interested in a study seeing whether these two effects would ever balance -- I'd imagine they probably would, somewhere near the Planck scale, but that's nothing more than a speculative assumption.

Re:Isn't this (0)

Waffle Iron (339739) | about a year ago | (#44824005)

The scientists at CERN have always told us that any mini black holes they create with their collider would immediately evaporate, so don't worry. Now it turns out that they could grow instead?!

That means that we're still at risk for this entire planet suddenly being swallowed up at any mo - *

Re:Isn't this (1)

boristhespider (1678416) | about a year ago | (#44824149)

If they're having to look at it with supermassive black holes -- and the abstract of the paper says the hole at the centre of the Milky Way has grown *exponentially* to its current mass -- then the timescales involved are large. We may balance against Hawking radiation but I don't think we have to fear a black hole at CERN.

(Moreover, the models that predicted black holes at the LHC were themselves extraordinarily speculative, and even were they true, which I think no-one actually would suggest, would almost certainly not manifest themselves at such low energies. The "danger" of black holes at CERN was almost entirely manufactured by the media. Almost.)

Re:Isn't this (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about a year ago | (#44824351)

> The "danger" of black holes at CERN was almost entirely manufactured by the media. Almost.

Even if you're 99% sure an old bomb will never explode, it's still not a good idea to kick it.

Re:Isn't this (1)

boristhespider (1678416) | about a year ago | (#44824391)

We're talking more like being more sure that the world will end because it will suddenly mutate into jelly than because CERN will make a black hole that will grow and eat up everyone and then (most bewilderingly) continue growing and eat the universe.

Re:Isn't this (3, Funny)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year ago | (#44824697)

Such flippant remarks... We're talking about the Earth being destroyed by laboratory professionals, and not pondering over why exactly it is we're mysteriously long overdue for an otherwise regular mass extinction event, coincidentally around the time complex life showed promise in direction of sentience. Look, they have big brains too, so why aren't the dolphins on speaking terms with us? Because they're not real dolphins.

I don't think you grasp the gravity of the situation.

Re:Isn't this (1)

boristhespider (1678416) | about a year ago | (#44824749)

You raise an extremely worrying argument :( I think we should watch closely to see when all the dolphins vanish. Instead of monitoring the internet we can set the NSA and GCHQ into decoding their last messages to us.

Re:Isn't this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44824453)

If you read the actual report published by CERN about the issue, it includes a bunch of work assuming the black hole wouldn't evaporate, and compares what would happen to various astronomical objects we can observe. Even if such black holes were created, and didn't evaporate, the growth rate would be really, really slow, both from first principles, and from work that certain objects could exist if it was much faster.

Re:Isn't this (1)

steelfood (895457) | about a year ago | (#44824877)

If a black hole generated by the LHC could grow to eat the earth, it probably would have happened already. The LHC is basically working at the same energies equal to cosmic rays striking the earth's atmosphere. You'd think that after 4.5 billion years of cosmic rays hitting things like this planet, the sun, the other planets, etc. that a black hole would be here by now.

Thus, based on our present existence and the existence of all these stars and other material out in space, either the black holes are not being generated, they do not exist long enough to be a threat, or the chances of it happening is low enough that it's not really worth considering. And that really is what it comes down to: it's not worth considering.

Predicted growth rate? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44823809)

How does this growth rate compare to hawking radiation? Seems like there is still more to explain here.

Re:Predicted growth rate? (3, Interesting)

mmell (832646) | about a year ago | (#44824027)

Agreed. If quantum foam imparts mass more quickly than Hawking radiation removes it, so much for the "Big Rip" . . . but no "Big Crunch" either. How 'bout "Universe go down the hole..."?

Frighteningly similar to Commander Crichton's wormhole weapon (save considerably slower).

Dietary Puzzle (0)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about a year ago | (#44823813)

How you get so big eating food of this kind?

Nothing but an extremely long (in our terms) cycle (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44823835)

I will be glad when they figure out that this is all just one huge (multitrillion year) cycle. Everything will eventually get sucked into the various holes; the larger holes will over power the small holes and suck them in until there is nothing left but one hole that eventually sucks our concept of time in to it until there only exists an extremely small and massively dense blob that reaches critical mass... at which point there is another big "bang" setting the entire process in motion again. Redistributed and reseeded.

Just another day down for Him. If one steps back far enough, everything has a cycle.

Re:Nothing but an extremely long (in our terms) cy (5, Informative)

boristhespider (1678416) | about a year ago | (#44824067)

Doesn't work - the big bang is not an expansion into pre-existing spacetime. Further, it's very hard to find a way of forcing a black hole solution of GR (Schwarzschild would be the most plausible in this context) to suddenly turn into a cosmological ("Friedmann-Lemaitre-Robertson-Walker") solution of GR. What you *can* do is embed an FLRW solution inside a Schwarzschild and get a model indistinguishable from observation, but extraordinarily contrived, and indeed pointless. (Come to that I'm not fully convinced those models genuinely work because the Schwarzschild solution is static, but if you linked that with Wetterich's recent model where the "expansion" is actually a manifestation of the increasing mass of particles you could avoid that issue, too and, indeed, avoid having to embed an FLRW inside a Schwarzschild at all.)

But if you refine what you say a bit it's not very far from an idea Penrose proposed a while back but has, unfortunately, never published in detail, although he's put out some (admittedly extremely ill-advised -- Penrose is basically a genius, but knows little of either statistics or observation) papers claiming signatures on the microwave sky. Basically Penrose points out that eventually everything will evaporate to radiation one way or another: if we follow any extension to the standard model we at least open the possibility that fundamental particles can decay, and otherwise ultimately every path every particle will take will inevitably, over an infinite period of time, take it into a black hole. If there are eventually two electrons in the universe and nothing more but radiation, they will themselves inevitably collide, after an unimaginable period, with enough energy to form a black hole (remember in this scenario the electrons are constantly buffeted by radiation of ridiculously high power... even if most of the radiation is at wavelengths of, say 10m, there will be *some* photons at a vast energy and these will interact with the electrons... eventually... and accelerate them to speeds far in excess of those reached on Earth or, indeed, in the Sun). And black holes radiate. So everything becomes radiation. But for reasons that are rather technical, it is impossible within the framework of GR to distinguish between an infinite future bathed in radiation and an infinite *past* bathed in radiation, because time and length scales become rather arbitrary. Which means that through some process Penrose has never explicated - if that's a word - the ultimate future can wrap onto the ultimate past and suddenly there's a new Big Bang.

There are also other ways of getting cyclic models, which involve a bit more new physics (new scalar fields, or branes hanging near ours, etc.) but a bit less hand-waving. Indeed, there are many ways of getting cyclic universes. But Penrose's struck me as being nearest to your suggestion.

Re:Nothing but an extremely long (in our terms) cy (1)

Trax3001BBS (2368736) | about a year ago | (#44825883)

Which means that through some process Penrose has never explicated - if that's a word - the ultimate future can wrap onto the ultimate past and suddenly there's a new Big Bang.

(TIC)

So there is life after death, see ya all on the rebound.

What would one use to accelerate fast enough to get out of this time loop?

Strike against Hawking Radiation? (1)

medv4380 (1604309) | about a year ago | (#44823975)

If a black whole can grow by eating space time then how could Hawking radiation ever evaporate it? It simply puts the black whole back into the "it breaks entropy" bucket.

Re:Strike against Hawking Radiation? (1)

boristhespider (1678416) | about a year ago | (#44824161)

No, in the simplest case it gives you a population model. What you've said could be crudely mapped onto a foxes hares model to read "If hares can grow by breeding how could foxes ever kill them all?" What we'd end up with is oscillations or balances, depending on the parameters. Personally, I'd suspect that any balance between consumption and evaporation would kick in around roughly the Planck scale but that really is a knee-jerk guess.

Re:Strike against Hawking Radiation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44824687)

I'm no expert at this but as far as I know, the hawking radiation is more intensive for small black holes and weaker for the massive black holes. I think that the hawking radiation of a supermassive black hole is weaker than the background/relic radiation. So until the universe cools, I think it is plausible that the blackhole doesn't evaporate faster than it "eats" the quantum foam.

So (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#44824169)

So they will grow forever until the universe is one giant black hole?

Information Problem? (1)

NEDHead (1651195) | about a year ago | (#44824179)

Since the entropy of a black hole is proportional to the area of the event horizon, and this is a reflection of the information content of the black hole, is there an issue with the information situation? Does the quantum foam that spontaneously creates these micro black holes inside the event horizon represent information? Or is there an information quandary implicit in this proposal?

Yuck! (1, Funny)

trongey (21550) | about a year ago | (#44824307)

Quantum foam? They can eat all they want. I tried that stuff once, it was awful.

Re:Yuck! (4, Funny)

Jason Levine (196982) | about a year ago | (#44825787)

It's not the Quantum foam's fault. It was both awful and terrific tasting until you measured (tasted) it.

Or, to quote Professor Farnsworth: You changed the result by measuring it!

Does Quantum Foam Have Density? (2)

ATestR (1060586) | about a year ago | (#44824471)

I'm not up on the details of contemporary physics, but it occurs to me that since the universe is supposed to have been expanding since the big bang, the overall density has decreased during that time. Does space/time and the Quantum Foam also have a density that might affect the rate at which super massive black holes could gobble it? Could conditions in the early universe encourage black hole growth/consolidation more than the current space environment?

Black hole growth via this method may still occur today, and be measurable in our own and nearby galaxies, but the rate may be so slow that it is hidden by other factors, e.g.: consumption of local stars/gas clouds.

Re:Does Quantum Foam Have Density? (3, Insightful)

boristhespider (1678416) | about a year ago | (#44824625)

Nice post.

"it occurs to me that since the universe is supposed to have been expanding since the big bang, the overall density has decreased during that time"

Yes, absolutely.

"Does space/time and the Quantum Foam also have a density that might affect the rate at which super massive black holes could gobble it?"

Yes; one would normally link it to what I guess would be called the Planck density. (We have a Planck energy and a Planck length, which imply a Planck volume, so a Planck density would be the Planck energy / c^2 divided by the Planck volume. Forgive me not going through the algebra but it would probably be a few minutes' work on Wikipedia; the important point is that a fundamental volume associated with the quantum gravitational scale probably exists. Or may exist.)

"Could conditions in the early universe encourage black hole growth/consolidation more than the current space environment?"

Certainly. If nothing else, higher energies - and a higher density is immediately a higher energy through E=mc^2 - would most likely lead to a high production of black holes. Maybe not, but what we *can* say is that higher energies leads to a higher abundance of primordial black holes through more standard processes, so that even if the foam black holes are *not* preferentially produced in the extremely early universe, other black holes actually are, so the absorption rate will be higher anyway.

Re:Does Quantum Foam Have Density? (1)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | about a year ago | (#44824933)

it has density and no density at the same time

Re:Does this explain that Spoon - No Spoon thing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44825217)

Quant1: Hey, I think you got quantum foam on my little black holes...
Quant2: Whoa you got little black holes in my quantum foam...

Bazinga!

Quant3: Who? Where? Huh? WTF am I? Some sort of little edgy black hole quantum burp?
If Stephen Hawlkings perceives me, does that mean I only theoretically exist?

OMG! Quantum Foam, little and supersized white holes & black holes...
wait, does this mean there could be grey holes in that quantum foam?
And which way do tachyons really go? Is there Quantum Swiss Cheese?

Re:Does this explain that Spoon - No Spoon thing? (1)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | about a year ago | (#44825395)

I thought you were describing a quantum Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, myself.

Crap, now I'm hungry.

can we stop this silliness? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44824505)

Can we stop presenting cutting edge theory as fact? It's growing tiresome.
Physics headlines of today are starting to sound like headlines from the 1950's.

Love the new religion (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44824781)

Blind faith in the unseen.... small number of "experts" expounding on, and debating details of, their understanding of all the cosmos.... inter-denominational rivalries as some of their leaders disagree with other leaders on the details of their opinions of the nature of the universe...

Wake me up when some, you know, real sciencey stuff is actually involved. I'm way past being amused by self-serving charlatans writing books, doing the lecture circuit, etc (more to have prestigious personal careers than to actually serve science) while pushing exotic theories like "string theory" and "foam" etc with no actual SCIENCE to give them more credence than, say, my personal pet theory of giant intergalactic polka-dot psychic monkeys. My GIPPMs explain EVERYTHING and are even preceded in the theoretical realm by the army of monkeys writing Shakespeare... with enough time and enough GIPPMs, ANYTHING can be done/explained

Re:Love the new religion (3, Informative)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | about a year ago | (#44824967)

The paper in question has specific predictions about what we should expect to see when we examine pulsars that are near black holes and moreover those predictions look like they should be testable with only slightly more advanced technology than we have now if we take the time to make the long-term observations necessary. That's the primary difference: testable, predictable results. In contrast, religion generally either fails at making novel predictions at all, or makes novel predictions generally about eschatological issues (that is end of the world) that always turn out to be wrong.

Re:Love the new religion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44826339)

religion generally [predict] ... (that is end of the world) that always turn out to be wrong.

But man the one time when they're right about the End of the World, they just NEVER let you hear the end of it.

Oh, wait....

Re:Love the new religion (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about a year ago | (#44825699)

Agreed. Why do you think Max Planck said:

* A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.

* Science progresses funeral by funeral.

Wait till Scientists discover White Holes in a few years ... its gonna be a field day for astrophysics. :-)

Re:Love the new religion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44826323)

I'm way past being amused by self-serving charlatans writing books, doing the lecture circuit, etc (more to have prestigious personal careers than to actually serve science) while pushing exotic theories like "string theory" and "foam" etc with no actual SCIENCE to give them more credence than, say, my personal pet theory of giant intergalactic polka-dot psychic monkeys.

Then why did/do you continue to waste time with popsci stuff and PR junk, and instead actually read the research papers involved. No one is going to wake you up for something that is already out there.

Quantum foam just joined Dark matter, energy as FM (2)

Trax3001BBS (2368736) | about a year ago | (#44824801)

One astrophysicist now claims Black Holes are made by Freaking Magic...

This comes after NuSTAR found Black Holes "wherever it looked" {my words}, ""We found the black holes serendipitously," explained David Alexander, "We were looking at known targets and spotted the black holes in the background of the images."" anywhere between 0.3 and 11.4 billion light-years from Earth. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130909154918.htm [sciencedaily.com]

NuSTAR http://www.nustar.caltech.edu/ [caltech.edu] and http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/nustar/main/index.html#.UjDw25I03n0 [nasa.gov]

Now it's a race to explain this, and in the lead is Marco Spaans with mini black holes aka "Quantum uctuations in the form" that I would
tend to think would of made itself more pronounced than just adding substance to a Black Hole.

Re:Quantum foam just joined Dark matter, energy as (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year ago | (#44825599)

So we have:

* Dark Energy
* Dark Matter
* Dark Gravity
* Dark Foam
* Dark Holes
* Dark Profit!

"I didn't eat the cake, honey, a Dark Mouth ate it."

End of the Universe (4, Interesting)

McFortner (881162) | about a year ago | (#44824929)

If black holes grow by the absorbing the quantum foam, then the universe is slowly gaining mass as new matter is spontaneously being generated but not getting a chance to vanish back to where it came from. This means that eventually the cosmic expansion will halt and be reversed. This universe could end not in heat death but a big crunch. We may have the final answer in the ultimate fate of the universe if this theory is correct.

Re:End of the Universe (1)

Progman3K (515744) | about a year ago | (#44825703)

FWIW I like your explanation, simple concise, logical.

Re:End of the Universe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44825781)

I'm assuming that when these black holes are created it's because some vacuum energy gets expended? Since this energy already has mass, no new mass is created?

Re:End of the Universe (2)

DigiShaman (671371) | about a year ago | (#44826173)

Then what? The black holes combine and form one giant singularity? BIG BANG!!! Cosmic rebirth, and the cycle begins anew!?

Re:End of the Universe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44826343)

Then what? The black holes combine and form one giant singularity? BIG BANG!!! Cosmic rebirth, and the cycle begins anew!?

We have no idea what would happen. We have never been able to experimentally observe the inside of a black hole.

This quantum foam... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44825037)

This quantum foam is going to go right to my Schwartzchild radius.

Does this metric make me look supermassive?

Black holes older than the current universe (2)

pepsikid (2226416) | about a year ago | (#44825091)

It doesn't sound like too crazy of an idea to me, that these apparently precocious supermassive black holes were just left over from an earlier universe. Suppose our Big Bang erupted into a preexisting space, and these awaiting black holes significantly accelerated the galaxy-making schedule this time around. Yes, this time around.

Instead of hyperinflation expanding faster than light in the first microseconds, perhaps our Bang opened into a pre-existing "cavity" of a few light-minutes across. Perhaps we burst out of a dimple in the wall of a larger space; an ancient, nearly-collapsed universe, breathing new life into it and restarting inflation. Expansion was at purely Einsteinian speeds (is there such a term?), but an illusion was created of superluminal motion.

I've also got a theory that the acceleration of inflation is less due to mysterious 'dark energy' than to our halo of "new" matter approaching a halo of really, really old cold matter and inactive black holes that exists beyond the Hubble radius. The Great Attractor may just be a lump that is a bit closer than the rest.

Or acceleration may be due to our 3-dimensional universe passing over and through higher-dimensional topologies that are invisible to us but for their gravity. We've begun to roll downhill, for reasons of absolutely no significance, and we'll just continue to do so until things level out. The higher-dimension topologies being invisible to us, we just have to take them as we get 'em, like unexpected waves.

Re: Great Attractor meets Great Repulsor? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44825279)

Sort of like the ancient Tai Chi Yin-Yang symbol which has a tiny yang white dot in the center of the 'full' black yin part and a tiny black yin dot in the center o the 'full' yang part. Okay, so yes, maybe I did reread those Dancing Wu Li Masters books in the last little bit.

Seems simple to me (1)

50000BTU_barbecue (588132) | about a year ago | (#44825237)

It ate one Sun per year for a billion years. Next question?

Re:Seems simple to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44826241)

have you seen the video of stars orbiting the black hole at the center of the Milky Way, made with images taken over a period of 16 years? Our own massive black hole isn't eating stars, and it mostly ejects surrounding material by causing trajectory change and momentum transfer, rather than devouring it. -- iggymanz

Eaters of Reality (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44825439)

Soon

B Headline Prediction: (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year ago | (#44825613)

Science Confirms The Universe Has Rabies!

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