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Possible Hole in Black Holes 495

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the through-the-looking-glass dept.
jd writes "Researchers have found what they believe may be a MECO (Magnetic, Eternally Collapsing Object) inside of a quasar. MECOs are rivals to black hole theory and involve plasmas that never reach the state of being a singularity. The most obvious differences between them are that MECOs have a magnetic field and do not have an event horizon. The problem lies in that the Universe cannot have both MECOs and black holes — it can only have one or the other. If this object truly is a MECO, then black holes do not exist. Anywhere. (Furthermore, this would require Professor Hawking to return a year's subscription to Private Eye and give Professor Thorne a year's subscription to Penthouse.) On the other hand, if this thing isn't a MECO, it's behaving very very oddly for a black hole."
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Possible Hole in Black Holes

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  • Errr (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 28, 2006 @05:49AM (#15797323)
    *Too complicated to coment*
  • Why... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pacifist Brawler (987348) on Friday July 28, 2006 @05:49AM (#15797325)
    Why can't the MECOs and the black holes just set aside their differences and peacefully coexist?

    Seriously, if this thing really is an MECO then what are all of the things that we've thought were black holes?
    • Re:Why... (Score:5, Informative)

      by NecroPuppy (222648) on Friday July 28, 2006 @06:02AM (#15797372) Homepage
      Seriously, if this thing really is an MECO then what are all of the things that we've thought were black holes?

      Probably MECOs.

      Because it's 3 AM, and I don't have the energy to reproduce all the math, there's two main theories about super-massive objects (simplifying a lot).

      One: Black holes. You've got an event horizon. Anything passes that point is gone forever. And they don't have magnetic fields. (remember, simplified massively)

      Two: MECOs. No event horizon, instead the matter pulled in is spun for a while then ejected at near lightspeed. They do have magnetic fields.

      Everything we know about black hole candidates falls into one of two sets of mutally exclusive equations (in large part to the magnetic field thing).

      That this object appears to have a magnetic field supports one set of Einsteinian equations; the one that supports MECOs.
      • Re:Why... (Score:5, Funny)

        by de Siem (840522) on Friday July 28, 2006 @06:29AM (#15797426)
        One: Black holes. You've got an event horizon. Anything passes that point is gone forever. And they don't have magnetic fields. (remember, simplified massively) Two: MECOs. No event horizon, instead the matter pulled in is spun for a while then ejected at near lightspeed. They do have magnetic fields.

        So if I understand correctly,

        Black holes suck and swallow

        Meco's suck, gargle and then spit it out

        Dirty buggers the lot of them!

        • Re:Why... (Score:5, Funny)

          by aug24 (38229) on Friday July 28, 2006 @07:08AM (#15797496) Homepage
          And given that the 'super massive black hole' at the centre of the galaxy is actually thought to be a multiple system, then this nes suggests that the entities at the centre of our galaxy do snowballs. Ewww.

          I think that's as far as we can take this. I hope so.

          J.
          • Re:Why... (Score:4, Informative)

            by lanswitch (705539) on Friday July 28, 2006 @07:48AM (#15797618)
            Not snowballs, but meatballs (http://www.venganza.org/)
        • Re:Why... (Score:5, Funny)

          by LS (57954) on Friday July 28, 2006 @10:16AM (#15798412) Homepage

          Furthermore "mecos" is Mexican slang for cum. I just wanted everyone to know that, so you can never again think about black holes and MECOs again without thinking about cum.
      • instead the matter pulled in is spun for a while then ejected at near lightspeed
        What may happen if a planet falls into MECO? There are who knows how many collapsed stars spinning chunks of matter at near lightspeed.
        That's bad news for poor planet Earth, but good news for Armageddon [imdb.com]'s fans.
      • Re:Why... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by jafiwam (310805) on Friday July 28, 2006 @07:45AM (#15797613) Homepage Journal
        Actually that's pretty compelling when coupled by a few other things;

        Though I have only known about MECOs for a few minutes, there's some things about black holes that never made sense to me.

        Why the near-light speed ejecta from a spherical event horizon object. Where does all that lateral energy come from? A super strong magnetic field makes more sense as a method for ejecting material than matter at oblique angles to the ecliptic accelerated so much it collides (and 99% of the energy evens out due to the circular input field and the last 1% spitting the stuff out) with classical physics.

        Instead, you get a south pole, and a north pole, and anything with any charge on each of those ends screaming in one direction or other.

        It seems to me though that plasma would give off tons of light, and there ARE some cases where a BH was "speculated" to be present where it's pretty clear there isn't a light producing object there.
      • Re:Why... (Score:5, Funny)

        by Bromskloss (750445) <auxiliary.addres ... ].com ['ail' in > on Friday July 28, 2006 @08:27AM (#15797729)
        MECOs. No event horizon, instead the matter pulled in is spun for a while then ejected at near lightspeed.
        Weeeeeee, I'm next!
      • Re:Why... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Total_Wimp (564548) on Friday July 28, 2006 @08:36AM (#15797775)
        All good and fine. But if we have decades of good work with black holes and we've appeared to find quite a few of them, then why would we be throwing them away with just one possible MECO sighting?

        I mean, if all of a sudden my very smart next door neighbor told me the sky was purple, I'd have to give his account much more scruteny than normal, simply because I already have so much evidence that it's blue. I certaintly wouldn't elevate it much past "interesting" until I got a lot more information, and I'd certainly not discard blue until there was a great body of evidence.

        TW
        • Re:Why... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by radtea (464814) on Friday July 28, 2006 @11:09AM (#15798837)
          All good and fine. But if we have decades of good work with black holes and we've appeared to find quite a few of them, then why would we be throwing them away with just one possible MECO sighting?

          Because the two are mutually exclusive.

          Black Holes are (or have, depending on how pedantic you want to be) singularities--that is their defining characteristic. No one has ever "seen" a singularity. What we see is indirect evidence for objects that are compact and too massive to be neutron stars. The theoretical upper limits on neutron star masses is quite strong, so we do not believe they are neutron stars.

          When a fairly massive star collapses, it stops when the density gets high enough that repulsive core of the strong force dominates gravity. When a really massive object collapses, the strong force is not strong enough, and the collapse goes on unimpeded, which creates a defect in our coordinate system known as an event horizon.

          The thing is, if there is something that could interfere with the collapse, then the collapse would not occur. Apparently MECO theory includs something that will do this. I have no idea if it is right or not, but if it is it provides a generic mechanism that will operate in all collapsed objects, so none of them will ever get to the singularity stage.

          Proofs that Black Holes exist have always been a matter of elimination--it isn't a duck or a neutron star, ergo it must be a Black Hole. If there is another viable alternative, the proof goes by the wayside until more information is discovered.
          • Re:Why... (Score:3, Interesting)

            by kirkjobsluder (520465)
            However...

            Observations of the universe are more uncertain. Perhaps the researcher made a mistake (not saying they did) or engaged in fraud (not saying they did). The identification of this particular object as a MECO is one interpretation of telescopic evidence. Perhaps there are mechanisms compatible with black holes that explain the observed phenomena? Perhaps not. This is why theories don't live or die on single observations.
          • Re:Why... (Score:4, Insightful)

            by rufty_tufty (888596) on Friday July 28, 2006 @12:30PM (#15799636) Homepage
            Hang on,
            The maths our current model is based upon says they're mutually exclusive.

            If we have observed an object that isn't a duck or a neutron star, or a meco, then it might still be a black hole and our current model may be incomplete.

            i.e. if we prove observationally that mecos and black holes do exist, then that means our models/assumptions are wrong. or that what were observing is neither a meco nor a black hole but something else again...
          • Re:Why... (Score:5, Informative)

            by dmartin (235398) on Friday July 28, 2006 @12:54PM (#15799871)
            The definition of a black hole does NOT require a singularity. What the strict defintion requires (as in Hawking and Ellis, or Wald's "General relativity) is that the black hole region in an asymptotically simple spacetime is the region that is causally disconnected from future null infinity.

            In English: once you go into one, you can never get back out if you believe that nothing can travel faster than light. If you CAN get out, the thing you started with was not a black hole!

            Notice that for the concept of black hole to make sense, you do not need general relativity. You do need to believe that there is an ultimate speed limit, and then the black hole of any theory is the region you cannot escape from.

            It is then a THEOREM of (classical) general relativity that such a region contains a singularity. If GR is corrected by some version of quantum gravity where there are no singularities, then this theory can still have black holes (regions of no escape).

            Now this is a stricter sense in which black holes are talked about currently. The article mentions Hawking and Thorne's disagreement: is information carried off by Hawking radiaiton? The answer is no: if the information goes in then it cannot come out by (the strict) definition of what a black hole is. Technically, the argument about the information loss problem is whether or not black holes (as originally defined) exist at all!

            However, this is an arguement purely at the level of sematics. There is very little observational difference between a real black hole [one that locks information up forever] and an information returning black hole [one that locks up and processes particles for a long period of time, but the end result of this process is re-emission as Hawking radiaiton]. Because the definition given above is one made for convience, most researchers in the field take a somewhat more pragmatic definition of a black hole.

            The theory of MECOs seems to still be built on General Relativity. It claims that radiation increases to stop complete collapse. This does not preclude the existence of black holes! It just means that they are unlikely to form as the end result of astrophysical processes. However, there are situations where you can make black holes at very low temperatures, or ones that you can do in flat space (although these tend to be somewhat artificial).

                The moral is
                    * MECOs are built on GR. If MECOs exist, then black holes are still solutions to GR
                    * The MECO advocates claim that this is a universal process for very hot and dense gas. We should not expect that black holes are a typical end of stellar product.
                    * MECOs may exist, but the process may not be universal (i.e. it may require particular thresholds of energy/pressure). This would allow a mix of black holes and MECOs.
                    * There may be no MECOs at all.

                Personally I am dubious that MECOs exist at all. Pressure *can* support a star against collapse, but only to a certain extent in GR. After a while, the pressure required also acts as a stronger source of gravity and ends in a runaway reaction causing collapse. See this paper of mine for more details: http://arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/0306038 [arxiv.org]
      • Re:Why... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by eyewhin (944625) on Friday July 28, 2006 @08:52AM (#15797860)

        That black holes do not, in some way, posess a magnetic field seems to be a debatable subject.

        One of the articles, http://www.newscientistspace.com/article/dn9050/ [newscientistspace.com], concerns the effiency of black holes and has a representative picture of jets moving away from the black hole. The captions reads:

        Jets of high-speed particles may be powered by magnetic fields and either the rotation of matter swirling around a black hole, the spin of the black hole itself, or both (Image: NASA/CXC/M Weiss).
        No where does it state that a black hole is mutually exclusive of a magnetic field.

        Quasars are certainly misunderstood objects. They appear to be very far away. No one can really conclude what these distances are. Strictly basing an assumption on redshifts is not, for me, conclusive.

        When a star forms, there is a point before "ignition" where there appears to be nothing. We can see these globules in many photographs of nebulae. According to theory, anywhere that you see what looks to be a perfect cirlce of black is a candidate for star formation.

        Now, quasars are theorized to be precursors to galaxies. Why is it not possible that we are observing the same effect on a huge scale? The matter in the center of the quasar is simply reaching the critical point and in the end we have a galaxy with a core that is burning brightly and outer arms that would be the equivalent to the planets orbiting our sun?

        For a good example of what this would look like, anyone can take a look at a picture of M104-the Sombrero Galaxy. Of course, there are many other spiral galaxies that one can observe, as well. The point is, the universe is very fractal in nature. We can compare the classical view of an atom to that of the solar system. Why can we not simply extend this to a view of a galaxy?

        The event horizon is something that any object with mass has, as well. Of course, not on the same scale as a black hole, yet, come to close to the sun and you are doomed. A comet slammed in to Jupiter and disappeared. It will never be seen again. Our moon is stuck to the earth. Without adding energy to the system, the moon will always be a part of the system. The event orizon of a black hole is important because light cannot ever leave the system once inside this critical boundary. That does not mean that other systems possess no event horizon.

        Also, there is a lot of evidence for black holes in binary stellar systems. I don't see how these MECO's offer an alternative eplanation for events that we observe vitually in our backyard. The quasars are too far away to readily observe and coem to any conclusion (if the distances are correct).

        The reason that it is so "easy" to accept the concept of a black hole is simply the fact that as the diameter of a body decreases while retaining mass, there is no choice but to have the system collapse to a singularity--given enough mass. If there is not enough "critical" mass, we end up with neutron stars, dwarves, etc.... What happens inside the black hole is anyone's guess.

        David
    • Question... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Balinares (316703) on Friday July 28, 2006 @06:30AM (#15797427)
      Okay... If this was detected in a quasar, and, as I understand it, quasars are insanely far away, with the implication that what we see of them happened insanely long ago... Is it possible that, as I think I once read here on Slashdot, some cosmological constants may really be variables that shift very slowly as the universe ages, and that MECOs were thus possible then, but no longer are?

      Just askin', and my apologies if this is a stoopid question.
      • by kjorn (687709)

        ARRRG!

        The universe is so anoying, why won't it let us just go out an take a look?

        Bloody speed of light crap.

        monk.e.boy

      • Re:Question... (Score:2, Interesting)

        by insanarchist (921436)
        I think I get what you're saying, but iirc we've "Seen" black holes at least as far away (or as long ago) as this MECO, so the theory that they could exist and now can't, while possibly valid by itself, doesn't stick as an explanation for black holes and MECO's seemingly "co-existing" in some impossible way.

        P.S. Slashdot stories this complicated shouldn't be posted until later in the day, I need coffee!
      • Re:Question... (Score:5, Informative)

        by agurkan (523320) on Friday July 28, 2006 @08:23AM (#15797709) Homepage
        Is it possible that, as I think I once read here on Slashdot, some cosmological constants may really be variables that shift very slowly as the universe ages, and that MECOs were thus possible then, but no longer are
        I am an astrophysicist but not a general relativity (GR) or cosmology person; take the following with a grain of salt. As far as I understand all solutions of GR equations involving singularities require some assumptions, since they need to take quantum effects into account and we do not have a theory of quantum gravity. So, we should be living in a very interesting universe if a few parameters about quantum gravity had such values and changed in such a way that MECOs were possible in the past and black holes are possible now. It is certainly possible, but if this happened I would suspect that there is a deeper reason for this.
    • Why can't the MECOs and the black holes just set aside their differences and peacefully coexist?
      I'm in no way a physicist but by the looks of things something like this is happening.

      When all the matter gets pulled together and it forms a MECO it gets ejected again at near the speed of light so there's no build up of matter beyond a certain point.

      Because the matter doesn't build up there won't be enough matter for a black hole to form, so you can't have MECOs and Black holes together.
  • Unless... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by taff^2 (188189) on Friday July 28, 2006 @05:50AM (#15797326)
    ...both MECOs and Black Holes can exist, and it transpires that we actually know a LOT less than we thought we did
    • Re:Unless... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RsG (809189)
      Probably not. From what I gathered, the two objects are both presumed, by different theories, to occur when matter is compressed past a certain point. Presumably, collapse of matter has to yield one result or the other, depending on what theory is correct. I don't see any way we could get both in the same universe.

      And as these are both theoretical objects, there's no reason to assume they both exist.
      • Re:Unless... (Score:2, Insightful)

        by cakefool (801210)
        you crash a car into a building, there is only one possible outcome right? - you plough through without taking damage.

        alternatively, mayby there are different cars, and different buildings.

        You can have multiple outcomes of such a large event, depending on different starting conditions (weight of car and building material for the above analogy)

        As we don't have a grand unified theory yet, we'll keep adjusting our disparate theories as we see new things.

        I love science me, except the bits that hurt...
    • by Hao Wu (652581)
      MECOs may exist inside of a Black Hole, since we cannot know what exists beyond the event horizon.

  • Slashdot experts (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mtenhagen (450608) on Friday July 28, 2006 @05:52AM (#15797336) Homepage
    From the article:
    "But Chris Reynolds of the University of Maryland, in Baltimore, US, says the evidence for a MECO inside this quasar is not convincing."

    Apparently the experts are not conviced about this "interesting" observation but at slashdot the expert will come to a final conclusion. How many slashdot posters actualy are qualified to talk about these subjects?
    • IANAQP (I am Not A Quantum Physicist) but that doesn't mean I'm not qualified to take up an opnion on why MECO's rule black holes drool!

      Having a strong opinion on something doesn't mean I have to actually know anything about it ;)
    • Re: Slashdot experts (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Black Parrot (19622) on Friday July 28, 2006 @06:28AM (#15797425)
      > From the article: "But Chris Reynolds of the University of Maryland, in Baltimore, US, says the evidence for a MECO inside this quasar is not convincing."

      > Apparently the experts are not conviced about this "interesting" observation but at slashdot the expert will come to a final conclusion. How many slashdot posters actualy are qualified to talk about these subjects?

      The named researchers aren't neutral observers in some grand BH vs. MECO debate; they're the proponents of the MECO idea. See for example the bibliography at the bottom of this article [godofcreation.com]. (And while you're at it, notice the author's persecution complex, his attempt to dismiss scientific dating methods at the very end, and, of course, the curious URL.)

      Doens't mean they're wrong, but it's useful to keep in mind that they're partisans in a debate, offering an interpretation of some observations that they think supports their side of the debate. They haven't convinced Reynolds, and the persecution complex displayed in the linked article suggests that they haven't had much luck convincing other people about MECOs in the past.
    • I'm a human and I live in a free country, (Canada). I'm qualified to talk about whatever the hell I want to.
      • by dhalgren (34798) on Friday July 28, 2006 @06:51AM (#15797464)
        No. You're welcome to talk about whatever you want to, not necessarily qualified to.

        Unless, of course, what you talk about counts as hate speech. Then you may speak of it, but only if you accept that you could be prosecuted legally--you do not, in Canada, have the right to say whatever you want, whenever you want.

        Speaking only about Canadian rights here, the rest of you understand. :)
        • hmm.. well, I'm going to say whatever I want, whenever I want and if I get arreseted, at least now I know I am breaking the law =)
  • by mcc (14761) <amcclure@purdue.edu> on Friday July 28, 2006 @05:54AM (#15797345) Homepage
    I know that there are cases where black holes have been indirectly observed by their effects on neighboring objects and light. Could these same data that were used to indirectly observe the black hole be adequately explained by the presence of whatever this other hypothetical object is?
    • I think (if I remember this correctly, which I doubt) that the bending of light that we attribute to black holes could just be anything else of massive, well, mass in a rather small space. We know gravity warps light, and we see light being warped by something we can't see, that doesn't actually tell us the dimensions of it. I do know that all spherical masses (which would include most things in space) act as a point mass, so unless the light had to get really close it would be possible.
      • No, spherical masses do NOT act as point masses. They can be modelled by them without too much loss of detail if the difference between the radius of the sphere and the distance to the other body is big enough, but ultimately the two are mathematically different (if infinitesimally so). When the very thing you're trying to determine is that difference, you're suggesting we toss out the baby with the bath water.
        • No, you are wrong. In both Newtonian and Einstein Gravity, you can use the point mass solution for a spherically symmetric mass as long as you don't extend your coordinates to beneath the surface. Outside the surface they are identical.
  • Penthouse (Score:5, Informative)

    by gamer4Life (803857) on Friday July 28, 2006 @05:56AM (#15797347)
    I was reading it fine until I hit the word "Penthouse", then I forgot everything else and had to look it up:

    http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04/07/1 4/2330221 [slashdot.org]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Hawking#Losin g_an_old_bet [wikipedia.org]
  • Ha! (Score:4, Funny)

    by mac.convert (944588) on Friday July 28, 2006 @05:58AM (#15797357)
    Finally! Now that movie Contact doesn't have any scientific merit! (Like it did before...)
  • Cosmology isn't my field but the data here is incredibly vague. I'm not sure this deserves more than a raised eyebrow and an "Okay...now come up with something a little less tenuous". Interpretation of data is an art in itself and can be wildly skewed by the observer's own opinions - show mw that this hasn't happened here.

  • Ok, when we have, like, numerous observations of black holes (which, granted, have only been 'seen' indirectly, but which follow the predictions quite good and at least in one instance, have observed it directly enough to rule out anything else then a black hole) and just one observation of a MECO - especially when scientist themselves say it's not totally convincing - then logic dictates that it's more likely the black-hole theory is correct.

    Until further obervations is being done and it is being confirmed it's truelly a MECO (or other MECOs are observed), then we really can't get say anything beyond wild speculation (which is what slashdot is very good at ;-).

    Most probably, it will turn out to be not a true MECO, but rather an odd variant of a black hole.

    If it DOES turn out to be a MECO, then, as theory predicts, there can't be any black holes - so then all our past obsrvations must have been wrong or misinterpreted. And if it turns out we have MECO's AND blak holes...well, then something very, very, very wrong must be going on with our current understanding of the universe and all the theories thusfar.

    Which, actually, would be a fantastic thing to science, contrary to what some might believe.

    • A MECO is an odd variant of a black hole. The matter under debate is not whether these things exist, since we have plenty of evidence for them, but what happens to physics in these extreme conditions. The standard black hole theory, in addition to being the first to propose that there can be so much mass in a region that light can't escape, proposes details on what is going on inside this region. MECO theory proposes different details. Of course, they agree for most observed effects (the event horizon, bend
  • Singularities (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 28, 2006 @06:05AM (#15797378)
    So if these MECO are for real, then gravitational collapse canot result in a singularity, which is nice, right? Then how about the big bang? Does that need to have been a singularity, or can we continue with this programme of avoiding the nasty things?
    • Technically, all the big bang requires is for all the matter and energy in the universe to have been compressed together at one point, and subsequently exploded outwards in all directions. The theory got started based on the observable expansion of the universe.

      Who's to say that the point of focused matter and energy must be a singularity?
    • > So if these MECO are for real, then gravitational collapse canot result in a singularity, which is nice, right? Then how about the big bang? Does that need to have been a singularity, or can we continue with this programme of avoiding the nasty things?

      I don't think you'll have any luck finding a physicist who thinks sigularities actually exist in black holes or actually existed at the start of the big bang. In fact, AIUI, that's why bigbangologists don't try to extrapolate back beyond one planck time "
  • The third option (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gerzel (240421) <brollyferretNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday July 28, 2006 @06:17AM (#15797402) Journal
    Lets not forget that there is another alternative to one or the other theory being right, and that this alternative is far more likely, almost certain in fact.

    The option is that neither of these theories are correct or rather neither is entirely correct. Both may still be partially true, and probably both are to a certain extent.

    Newton was right on with his theories, yet they were proven to be incorrect, and they are still the first thing a physics student learns today. I find the idea of "if phenomina A exists then phenomina B, that we have also have some evidence for, cannot exist" because when you get right down to it we don't understand our universe we perceive it.
  • Remember, they had black holes in Star Trek, and as everyone knows it's gospel what they say and write there.
  • The youngest observed quasar are billions of years old, so why can't an universal constant have changed since the beginning of the universe up to the point it would have changed the quasars and MECOs into galaxies and black holes?
  • To solve this problem, we must look into the future. Put Hawkins on a dozen Star Trek tapes and see if he can get a hint of what's really going on.
  • by SomPost (873537) on Friday July 28, 2006 @07:06AM (#15797494) Homepage
    Maybe we should invade its surface, kill its plasma and convert it to black holeness.
    • by ScentCone (795499) on Friday July 28, 2006 @07:40AM (#15797593)
      Maybe we should invade its surface, kill its plasma and convert it to black holeness.

      Maybe we should just ask it how it feels to think that it's a MECO, and no matter what it says, start up a government program designed to empower its sense of communinity with the black holes. Then, if Kofi Annan decides that the arrangement is suitably free of human suffering that no one in Europe will notice, we can assign a series of attractive Hollywood types to set the tone for more research by doing some short publicity pieces that will help all MECOs feel better about ejecting mass, even if it hurts other stellar objects (which isn't their fault, since the laws of physics are really just The Establishment and Hawking is just The Man, running Big Physics from his position of authority-backed, but morally weak institutional power).
    • by jafac (1449) on Friday July 28, 2006 @01:01PM (#15799931) Homepage
      That - of course, is not the true neo-con philosophy.

      The true neo-con philosophy is to:

      1. Invest in MECO futures.

      2. Invade it's surface with just enough troops to create chaos, but not enough to actually accomplish any other real objective.

      3. Come up with the "kill its plasma and convert it to black holeness" understory to keep the conservative yokel voting base exited, so you don't get kicked out of office halfway through. (because the neo-con philosophy is based on Straussian doctrine that "religion is the opiate of the masses - and we need to keep pumping it to control them - for their own good).

      4. Wait for the escalating violence and chaos cause MECO futures traders to speculate the price up 400%.

      5. Profit.
      (wait - was that for their own good or ours? Oh well, chalk it up to "enlightened self-interest")
  • by Colonel Angus (752172) on Friday July 28, 2006 @07:10AM (#15797501)
    If a MECO spits everything that it sucks in back out again at light speed... then, wouldn't it do the same thing with light itself? Making them visible and directly observable rather than having to indirectly detect them through their interactions with objects around them?
  • Eternally collapsing.... Never reaches the final state .... I think they are talking about Microsoft Vista. Please retag the thread as MS with that cool cyborg morph of BGates as the icon.
  • the bet (Score:2, Informative)

    by Seto89 (986727)
    Accorfing to Stephen Hawking's Universe series Hawking was the one who bet that Black Holes don't exist (as some kind of insurance, so if they don't exist and all his work is useless, then he at least would get a subscription to a nice magazine) and he then gave the other guy (forgot his name) 1 year subscription to Penthouse, so if this is true and black holes don't exist, he would get the Penthouses back + a 4 year subscription to Private Eye. Why can't they co-exist though? Can't there be a reasionable s
  • Occam's Razor (Score:5, Informative)

    by astrogirl2900 (944414) on Friday July 28, 2006 @07:28AM (#15797556)
    Preface: I have a Ph.D. in Astrophysics and my ressearch has to do with computer models of black holes.

    This is yet another one of these things where an observational astronomer who just doesn't like black holes comes up with some incredibly complex theory to explain their oberservations so they don't need a black hole to explain them. There is an incredible resistance towards black holes in some parts of the astronomical community. Saying that "A black hole can't do this" when our models of accretion discs arount black holes are still at the state they are in i.e. fixed background metric, many models are only HD not MHD (no magnetic fields in the disc) is just not backed up by the facts.

    This reminds me of the whole "we don't need black holes to explain jets" discussion a couple of years back.

    Besides I do not se how the existence of Mecos would prevent the existence of black holes in general. We are still using the same Einstein Equations, right?

    I think the operand word in the article is "controversial". Occam's Razor is a good rule of thumb.
    • Re:Occam's Razor (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Bern_2003 (685521) on Friday July 28, 2006 @08:39AM (#15797787)
      I wouldn't worry to much about this. As the article clearly states all observations were made with an optical telecope. They saw this mysterious "hole" in the center and made the assumption that there was nothing there. It could be full of hot gas but you wouldn't be able to detect it with a visible light telescope becasue the gas itself would not not emit any light. This is kind of like the monty python sketch where it was agreeded that a duck is made out of wood becasue it floats.
  • by Fear the Clam (230933) on Friday July 28, 2006 @07:44AM (#15797607)
    MECOs are rivals to black hole theory and involve plasmas that never reach the state of being a singularity.

    No singularity, but Meco did come out with that that singularly awesome Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk [wikipedia.org] album back in '77. Take that, black holes!
  • by morie (227571) on Friday July 28, 2006 @08:00AM (#15797649) Homepage
    Hawkins conceded the bet that black holes did NOT exist and gave the Penthouse subscription, so this could force him to reclaim that and claim his prize.

    Hawkins called the bet an insurance policy so he would not be empty handed if black holes did not exist after all...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 28, 2006 @08:22AM (#15797705)
    Here is a direct link to a (free) pdf paper describing the idea of a MECO in all the gory details:
    http://www.citebase.org/fulltext?format=applicatio n%2Fpdf&identifier=oai%3AarXiv.org%3Aastro-ph%2F06 02453 [citebase.org]

    As a physicist (though not a cosmologist) it looks not at all convincing.
    • by astrogirl2900 (944414) on Friday July 28, 2006 @09:28AM (#15798098)
      Just skimmed it. This theory definitely does not exclude the existence of black holes. This is just another solution to the Einstein equations, involving matter.

      If the contraints they impose on the stress-energy tensor (i.e. the the assumptions they make about the behavior of matter) are always enforced in the universe, I think they'd have a problem with creating neutron stars.
  • One problem... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JDevers (83155) on Friday July 28, 2006 @09:06AM (#15797958)
    I'll point out one problem with this that no one else has already, it is in New Scientist. That alone makes it probable pseudoscience. These guys have made a career out of taking one valid data point and building the rest of the line as they see fit. If this is believable, we will see mention in journals in the near future.
  • speed of light (Score:3, Interesting)

    by spikesahead (111032) on Friday July 28, 2006 @09:25AM (#15798071)
    I have thought for a long time that singularities were impossible due to conservation of angular momentum. Velocity is all relative, so if you have a spinning basketball and squish it down to half it's original circumference, the relative velocity of two opposing points on it's equator will double. Divide the circumference again and the relative velocity will double again. There is a lot of dividing that can be done between any rational number and zero (the theoretical diameter of a singularity), and if you have any spin in the original matter that relative velocity is going to hit the speed of light long before you hit zero.
    • I have thought for a long time that singularities were impossible due to conservation of angular momentum. Velocity is all relative, so if you have a spinning basketball and squish it down to half it's original circumference, the relative velocity of two opposing points on it's equator will double.

      And its angular momentum will be unchanged. So what's the problem?

      The math is difficult to reproduce on a slashdot posting, but I'll leave it to anyone interested as homework. Suffice it to say that for L = an

    • Re:speed of light (Score:3, Informative)

      by Mark Maughan (763986)
      First of all, no.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kerr_metric [wikipedia.org]

      I have thought for a long time that singularities were impossible due to conservation of angular momentum. Velocity is all relative, so if you have a spinning basketball and squish it down to half it's original circumference, the relative velocity of two opposing points on it's equator will double. Divide the circumference again and the relative velocity will double again. There is a lot of dividing that can be done between any rational number and zer

  • by Wolfger (96957) <wolfger.gmail@com> on Friday July 28, 2006 @12:47PM (#15799797) Homepage
    the Universe cannot have both MECOs and black holes - it can only have one or the other.
    Nothing in the attached article indicates this is true. It is merely one person's opinion that all supposed black holes are instead MECOs. I have no problem envisioning that two equally-unproven and equally-poorly-understood phenomenon could co-exist in the same universe. This is the scientific equivalent of daytime talk shows... mostly hype, little substance.

I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the demigodic party. -- Dennis Ritchie

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