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Through the Wormhole: Black Holes

They are the most powerful objects in the universe. Nothing, not even light, can escape the gravitational pull of a black hole. Astronomers now believe there are billions of them out in the cosmos, swallowing up planets, even entire stars in violent feeding frenzies. New theoretical research into the twisted reality of black holes suggests that three-dimensional space could be an illusion. That reality actually takes place on a two-dimensional hologram at the edge of the universe.

Black holes are almost as difficult to imagine as they are to detect, but a few scientists have been up for the task over the centuries. Cambridge scholar John Michell wrote a paper in 1783 in which he hypothesized the existence of “dark stars” — stars so large and with so much gravity that light wouldn’t escape their surfaces. Most astronomers of the day thought it was an absurd notion.

Then, in 1915, Einstein published his general theory of relativity, providing a framework that allowed for a reinterpretation of Michell’s hypothesis. An Indian graduate student by the name of Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar piggybacked on Einstein’s theories to suggest that stars of a certain size — much larger than our sun — would experience a catastrophic collapse at the end of their lives, thereby transforming the bodies into cosmic vacuum cleaners whose powerful gravity could suck all light and matter into their black maws.

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