Superman’s Singularity3 min read

*For those of you that haven’t seen Man of Steel, the latest Superman movie, this may be a bit of a spoiler!

In an effort to completely alter the gravity and physical composition of the Earth, General Zod (the antagonist of Man of Steel) employs two megamachines, each stationed at opposite ends of the Earth. The two devices send gravitational pulls back and forth through the center of the planet, thereby bending the Earth’s mass and altering the gravitational force.

Since matter cannot be created nor destroyed, General Zod’s claim that he was also making the planet “more massive” was a bit of a stretch. However, if we assume this is possible, we are then allowed to imagine a planet with a stronger gravitational pull than before.

Fortunately for the sake of humanity, Dr. Emil Hamilton (fighting for the protagonists) realized that he could create a black hole of his own to send the evildoers back to where they came. This made me wonder- can anyone produce a black hole, given the right materials?

Black holes are a beautiful phenomena in celestial nature- when a Red Supergiant collapses (a star roughly ten times the size of our sun) a supernova sends a shock wave of its outer layers into space. What remains, however, is an extremely dense core. If this core happens to be greater than 3 times the size of our sun, it contracts to form a black hole.

Though Dr. Hamilton did not have an extra sun, he somehow had the advantage of the “right materials.” If the intended object of collision maintained the same principles of this supermassive core, a home-made black hole may not be impossible.

The black hole that Dr. Hamilton was concerned with includes a singularity covered by an event horizon (like all other black holes). An event horizon is the threshold inside a black hole, past which things start to get trippy.

If you were to pass through an event horizon, you would be completely absorbed into the will and fate of the black hole. Escape is impossible, even if you are moving at the speed of light. In fact, if your friend were to watch you pass through the horizon, he or she would see you slow down to a stop; and you’d never pass the horizon to begin with! All the while, you would be looking at your friend as if nothing had happened.

If Superman’s enemies had been engulfed by the same singularity caused by a black hole, they would most likely still be over Metropolis. On their morning commute, civilians would look at the gaping hole above them and still see a lurking enemy ship. Over time, this image would be increasingly redshifted, so try to imagine an even more sinister looking threat.

But, even more likely, Metropolis (and the planet) would be joining them in the black hole.

For the sake of cleanliness (and a Hollywood budget), the black hole disappeared in a flash, as though it were satiated from its offering. All villains vanished and the day is saved (well, almost…). But how would we destroy a real black hole?

Ted Jacobson from the University of Maryland and Thomas Sotiriou from the University of Cambridge believe that the elimination of the event horizon would do just the trick. By feeding the black hole angular momentum and charge, one can reverse a given inequality of the hole’s mass, charge, and angular momentum. However, this is a high risk job- no one knows exactly what would or could escape from Pandora’s Box.

Moreover, there is no guarantee that this method will actually work. “At present, nobody knows what it would do,” the pair of scientists admits.

Even more abstractly, looking at an untainted, uncovered singularity would be similar to gazing into infinity.

I’m sure this is not exactly what General Zod intended, but hey, he was one evil guy.

Sources:

www.technologyreview.com/view/419351/how-to-destroy-a-black-hole/

www.astro.keele.ac.uk/workx/starlife/StarpageS_26M.html

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