The Black Drain
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by Laramie Boyd
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If you think of it, the next time you are standing in your shower or bath tub, look down
at the drain as the water is swirling around and disappearing. The first thing you may notice is the water spinning in a certain direction
as it empties out. (In the northern hemisphere, north of the Equator, the spin is in a clockwise direction while the spin is counter-clockwise
in the southern hemisphere, south of the equator.) And there is nothing you can do to change this whirlpool direction. And all things
being equal, the water will disappear down the drain. It seems that the drain is sucking the water down into the drain hole such that
none of the water can resist the pull of the eddy. And once the water begins its descent, that water will never be seen again.
And what is it that is drawing the water into the drain hole? We call it gravity, the force that seems to us to permeate the entire
Universe. We know what this force does, but no one has satisfactorily explained why it works the way it does. Maybe Richard Feynman,
a noted physicist, was right when he was addressing a body of scientists on the topic of "What nature behaves like." He said "Nobody
knows how it can be like that." But he added " You will find her (nature) a delightful, entrancing thing."
Now think of a situation far, far away from an emptying bathtub. Imagine an immensely huge star, out in space somewhere, that is losing
its fuel that feeds its atomic furnaces. (Our Sun has about 5 million years before it runs out of fuel, "they" say.) This dying star
begins to shrink into a more compact ball of matter as it dies. And as it shrinks in on itself, and if the star is large enough, the
amount of gravity around the star increases. And its gravity begins to pull in objects surrounding it. Soon, astronomically speaking,
gravity becomes so great that nothing within range of the dead star can resist its pull; small stars, planets, comets, and the like.
Eventually something strange happens. The gravity of the dead star mass becomes so powerful that nothing within its vicinity can escape
its pull, not even light. And so when the mighty telescopes scan the heavens on a clear night, if they are aimed properly at the dead
star's position, a blank area in space exists, where there is no light on its way traveling towards Earth. Only a blank, black space.
That area of the heavens is called a Black Hole.
Now think of the bath tub drain as a black hole,
its gravity sucking the water surrounding it into the hole. The water can't escape the swirling, relentless force of gravity. And
if the gravity on Earth was strong enough, which it will never be, more than water would be sucked into the drain, including you.
You can dry off now before you catch your death of cold.