We all have at least a basic grasp of the concept of black holes and their destructive nature, whether really interested in physics or not. What has been known for quite a long time is that inside black holes, the laws of physics as we know them end, no longer applying, and that matter of any kind, once swallowed by a black hole, is never to return.
However, as science progresses and researchers try to decipher this larger-than-life cosmic body, new theories emerge.
One of these theories has been dubbed as “cosmic censorship” and seems to suggest that black holes might actually be shielding us from certain effects of other places in the universe, too different from our current understanding of the physical world and its laws.
The current theory of gravity based on Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity does admit that it’s not perfect and that there are some flaws to be taken into consideration and deciphered.
These said flaws are known as “singularities,” and the equations used seem to suggest that at these points, gravity acts unpredictably, sometimes intensifying to unimaginable levels that our scientists cannot yet explain mathematically.
Of course, the very idea of physics requires that the physical world as we know it continues to make sense inside black holes too but for now, there is no unique and proven theory that is able to unify the theory of gravity and quantum physics.
This means that for the time being, we are still unable to explain what truly happens near singularities.
It may sound concerning and even terrifying to think about but singularities’ unfamiliar effects on our world are not really a problem since they are safely contained inside black holes, right?
If singularities could exist by themselves, however, the implications would undoubtedly be massive!
A physicist at Yangzhou University, China, named Yen Chin Ong states that “Naked singularities cause general relativity to lose its predictive power.”
In the 1960s, another physicist, Roger Penrose, revolutionized this topic by theorizing, for the first time, that the math must work out in order for those so-called “naked” singularities to be censored.
In fact, while his ideas were not 100 percent proof but more of an informed assumption, the results of his research were so compelling and revolutionary that just last year, in 2020, Penrose was honored with a Nobel Prize in Physics for his exceptional work.
For decades, his theory was supported by many other studies from other researchers until another breakthrough happened in 2010.
At the time, Luis Lehner and Frans Pretorius used a computer simulation to prove that it is possible for the very outer layer of black holes to break down and release stand-alone singularities.
This process has been dubbed as the Gregory-Laflamme instability but there is still no reason to worry since it can only happen in universes that have more than three dimensions, something in which our own reality functions.
On the other hand, another physicist at Queen Mary University, London, argues that the results of Luis Lehner and Frans Pretorius’ experiment still poses many questions and leaves the door open for the possibility, although small, of something similar happening in our universe as well.
In the past decade, thanks to Luis Lehner and Frans Pretorius’ result as well as the vast advancements in computer science, the interest in cosmic science has exploded more than ever.
The general results of multiple, advanced simulations now suggest that naked singularities are much more common than originally thought in other dimensions with more than three dimensions.
One such situation where singularities can appear is the collision of two different black holes, something that scientists have found happens in our universe as well.
Regardless, the results of this cosmic crash in our three-dimensional world are not the same – instead of releasing stand-alone, unpredictable singularities, they remain tightly contained within the black hole even upon impact.
A foolproof theory of this still evades scientific grasp but the process of solving this puzzle is the most important at this point as it continues to gain momentum within the researching community.