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Black Holes and Cosmic Snapshots 61

deeptrace writes "The New York Times reports that Andrew J. S. Hamilton, a professor of astrophysics at the University of Colorado used video game technology and Einstein's equations for general relativity to calculate what it might look like to fly through a black hole." On a somewhat more tangible note bahstid writes "The Hubble Team has assembled the largest ever image of the Pinwheel Galaxy beyond Ursula Major from 51 Hubble shots and some terrestrial images. The final composition weighs in at 12392x15852 pixels - just over 10 light years per pixel. In an effort to burn out their server properly their European page is making the 450Mb file available for download, along with some slightly more manageable sizes."
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Black Holes and Cosmic Snapshots

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  • by Kranfer ( 620510 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2006 @08:33AM (#14825529) Homepage Journal
    I love how science is now using video game technology to attempt to figure out theory... I know while it is not a new concept/practice, I still find it amazing what kind of educated guesses a computer can make over the human mind. Not to mention that huge 450 MB image of the galaxy mentioned in the article is amazing as well. I cannot wait until we can directly photograph extra-solar planets. Our quest to find life and answers in this mindboggling sized universe is increasing all the time. The sheer size of the Telescopes being used is amazing as well. I recently traveled to Hawaii and viewed the Telescopes at the top of Maunea Kea... Just seeing the Size of the Subaru Telescope or the Keck Twins is just... awe striking. I have pictures too! Head over to: http://www.ussamazon.com/live/hawaii/telescopes.JP G [ussamazon.com] yeah upper case JPG, case sensative, blah blah blah.
  • 450 megabyte download? Too bad I don't have a big enough hard drive to download that onto, but maybe I will if and when I get a second hard drive.

    (Here's my attempt at some humour, so hopefully I don't get modded down if someone takes me seriously.) I wonder what that's going to be like on their servers. Posting a story like this on slashdot linking to a place where there's a 450 megabyte file.
  • Wow (Score:2, Informative)

    450 megabytes.

    Thats astronomical!

    They do actually have a zoomable version for folks who don't want or need the entire thing. Thats available Here [spacetelescope.org]

    • I'll be downloading the full thing just for the sake of seeing how fast I can rotate it with GLiv [guichaz.free.fr].
  • by DiamondGeezer ( 872237 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2006 @08:52AM (#14825599) Homepage
    I knew her at school. Lovely girl.
  • by maxwell demon ( 590494 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2006 @08:53AM (#14825600) Journal
    ... shortly after this story went public, a certain server room in Europe resembled the inside of a black hole ...
  • Is bittorrent really that unknown? What the hell? It's a win/win..what are they thinking...
    • The only reason I can dream of for the lack of bittorrent on things like this is that the media witchhunt has made people feel that:
      Admitting Knowledge of Bittorrent = Theft.
      This is far from the first time a big file has been stupidly distributed when bittorent would be the obvious solution, but it is, as always, quite disappointing.

      (I suppose there's a possibility that NO ONE associated with this knows about bittorrent, but that strikes me as quite unlikely.)
  • Does it take into account the tidal forces acting on your eyeballs will distort your vision?
    • Re:Thru a black hole (Score:3, Informative)

      by rknop ( 240417 )
      I haven't looked at the video yet, but... ... if the black hole is big enough, this won't be a problem, at least for crossing the event horizon. It is true that if you cross the event horizon, you are destined to hit the center and will eventually be paste. However, the bigger the black hole, the less troublesome tidal forces are as you cross the event horizon. For a stellar mass black hole, they will rip you to shreds before you get in, yes.

      I suspect, though, that the video is done from the point of vie

      • Added to that, there is the fact that as the observer is accelerated towards the singularity, reletavistic effects kick in and time passes more slowly for them. Given a big enough black hole, it's possible that the observer may not notice they've indeed crossed an event horizon.
        • Actually, if the tidal forces rip them apart, nothing in particular happens at the moment the observer passes the event horizon. It does mean that the observer is destinated later to hit the center (whereas before crossing the event horizon, it's in priniciple possible to esacpe). However, nothing strange happens at the event horizon. But that's not because time is moving more slowly.

          It's not really quite right to say that time passes more slowly for the observer going into the black hole. There is a ti
  • My Kingdom for a torrent!! The Slashdotting alone will fry the server withing seconds!!
    • I'm currently getting around 100KB/s downloading the image.

      Two things to remember:

      1) this isn't on the front page, little summary link notwithstanding
      2) if slashdot can survive the slashdot effect, so can other sites; this is apparently one of them
  • Real math + actual physics + nifty visualization = people actually learning something! *shocking!*

    I helped design an astronomy exhibit for a local science museum, and the process you go through in order to make it accessible to the public is mind boggling. Especially when you try to show more than just pretty pictures, but the science behind those pictures.

    One question though, does anyone know what variable the simulation was using colors for? Was it temperature (most likely), or something more exo
  • I thought that the effects of flying through a black hole were known since 1979! In fact, if you zoom in on this massive image, you can just barely make out the survivors of the Nostromo! (Okay, that was lame, but I'm shocked that I appear to be the first to make reference to the movie [imdb.com].)

    In an effort to burn out their server properly

    Okay, that was funny.
  • big enough?
  • Call me blind, but I can't seem to put my virtual hands on a copy of that movie. And I'd rather like to see it. Sounds intresting, and I've always liked visualizations of cutting edge physics. Or would that be vanishing edge?
    • Call me blind, but I can't seem to put my virtual hands on a copy of that movie.

      I haven't been able to find it either, unfortunately. In the mean time, you might wanna have a look at the guy's webpage [colorado.edu] which has interesting info on general relativity. There is for example a guide [colorado.edu] to what a trip (fall) down into a black hole would look like with explaining text along with images and animations.
    • The movie is apparently showing at a Museum, which has a page [dmns.org] about it with a trailer [dmns.org]. It's in WMV format :-( and I haven't been able to view it so I don't know if it's anything to see.
      • Well, VLC plays the sound well enough, and it sounds kinda intresting, but it doesn't have support for wmw3 video, so I can't comment on that yet. I wish people running these places would recognize that there are better formats out there than wmv, or at least alternate formats.
  • I don't know in what format they provide the image, but if it's some kind of bitmap I've written a freeware for the express purpose of displaying quickly large image files [gdargaud.net] (64 exabyte limit). Windows only, sorry.
  • ...for when I get around to building that video-wall.
  • I think it's sad there are no more comments here. I remember taking an introduction to astrophysics back in college and having lengthy discussions with the teacher. And I was the only person in class who was interested at all. There are so many unanswered questions and so many beautiful things we see but can't explain yet in space, I can't believe humans don't spend more energy trying to solve all these mysteries.

    Black holes were one of my favorite subjects. Say, for exemple, that you would fall into a blac

    • Yeah, I asked some of the same questions, but I was under the impression that asking what is inside a black hole is eqivalent to asking what happens outside the universe, i.e. totally irrelevent to anything that happens inside.

      It is interesting to think about black hole intyeriors yes (BTW how can something with zero volume have an interior?), but is it useful? It may be defeatest to say no, but then again it may be the truth...

      On the otherhand, I believe that in the last couple of years string theory made
      • BTW how can something with zero volume have an interior?

        You're confusing the singularity at the center of the black hole with the hole itself. The hole itself is the volume inside the Schwartzchild Radius, which is where the escape velocity equals the speed of light. Only the singularity has no volume of its own.

    • I Am No An Astrophysicist either, or any kind of physicist, for that matter, but...

      At the center of the galaxy there is a black hole (in theory) that is large enough that the tidal forces would not rip you to your component particles as you approach the event horizon. So lets say that you decide that you have nothing left to live for in this universe and decide to journey to another something by traveling into this massive black hole.

      By definition when you reach the event horizon, you will be travel

      • My understanding of string theory is that the strings are wrapped around the surface of the black hole. So in this view nothing can go down into the interior it just gets wrapped around the event horizon.

        This raises the question of what happens when someone falls into a nice big black hole where the tidal forces at the horizon are small and you might think you could just cruise on through and down into the interior. However, from the point of view of an external observer no one ever gets there they just g
  • Here's another fun toy for special relativity http://lightspeed.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net].
    It shows how an object's appearance changes when it travels near light speed.
  • Here's a text version of the movie for those with low bandwidth.

  • So how exactly does one get any computer in this universe to compute what happens when all known laws of physics (newtonian or quantum) break down, as in a black hole?
    • The laws may break down in the black hole itself, but the event horizon is not really the "surface" of the black hole. The same rules apply between the event horizon and the black hole itself. Of course, I'm not a physicist, so I may be completely wrong here.
  • heay I can see my house!

  • Video game technology and Einstein's work on relativity may at first seem as unlikely a couple as Oscar and Felix.

    Um...no. They both might benefit from number crunching. What's unlikely about that?

    90 hours of supercomputer calculation for each second on screen.

    Big deal. Go see a movie and you'll see thousands of individual frames that take days to render (adding up everything from simulation, 3D rendering and compositing).

    a graphics language called Open GL


    The visualization software tha

    • It's funny the lengths journalists will go to in order to convince people that science is interesting. In this case highlighting an unbelievably tenuous link between games and astrophysics.

      Would you rather they were writing stories about how boring it is? They may not always get their facts right, if indeed they ever do, but they may be sparking an interest in kids young enough that they haven't decided what to study yet.

  • " ...finds that there is an exit via a wormhole, and witnesses a kind of ultimate chaos."

    (you might put carmina burana (O Fortuna) music here)

"The C Programming Language -- A language which combines the flexibility of assembly language with the power of assembly language."