∆Chandra Black Hole detector

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The Chandra x-ray telescope Black-hole detector.

This idea of a block of warped space folded right back on itself is not so farfetched and may basically exist, but luckily not too close to Earth.

The Chandra X-ray satellite telescope has reportedly discovered that black-holes exist that are spinning at close to the speed of light.

That black-holes spin is really to be expected because as matter falls into the object it creates an effect similar to that of an ice skater spinning faster and faster as they start a spin and then pull in their arms in closer and closer. The effect is known as the conservation of angular momentum, and in the case of a black-hole it show us that the object becomes a store-house not just of colossal amounts of matter and information, but also of kinetic energy.

However what concerns us here is that a ‘spin off’ (sorry) of this rapid rotation combined with the fact that the immense gravity around a black-hole ‘warps space’ very significantly, is that a rapidly spinning black-hole may actually warp space not just a little but right round into a complete, or almost complete, circle or spiral.

To see what this would be like imagine tipping a small stream cream in a swirling cup of coffee. If you got it just right you would form a thin spiral of cream from the centre of the coffee out to the edge of the cup.

Scientists or science fiction writers obsessed with time travel will find this fact fascinating because it seems to lead to the idea that we could twist space, and time, right round back onto itself, and then jump from ‘strand of the spiral, or rather one place in ‘spacetime’ across a small gap, to a different location in ‘spacetime’.

 In the cream analogy this means we might only have to jump a few millimetres ‘inwards’ from one part of the spiral to the next, to end up a few centimetres further ‘down’, the stream, ‘ahead’ of where we started; and of course if we jumped the few millimetres outwards from one part to the next we would end up a few centimetres ‘behind’ where we started.

Figure 394 Coffee time travel ? (Note if the cream was ‘warped space’, from ‘X’ you could look straight ahead and see ‘A’ or straight behind you and see ‘B’).



But in the case of a spinning black-hole twisting ‘spacetime’ all the way around itself so it actually overlaps, this effect implies that we wouldn’t just take a short cut from A to B, but also from Now to ‘then’; and depending on the direction we jump, ‘then’ might be in the future or the past !

Who’s warped and dilated now?

Sadly here again I have to ruin the party[1]. If you consider the previous discussions about time, and the idea of ‘straight rulers’ pushed into ‘tame warped space’ as shown in the diagrams, you can see that; yes, the fabric of space may be stretched, twisted, and warped; and yes this may mean that ‘straight’ objects may also be twisted with this space; and yes, the rate things ‘happen’, or change may vary, or be ‘dilated’, along the length of some twisted and stretched ruler... but all of this can still be said to be happening in a ‘warped, and dilated, now’.

In the timeless view, although black-holes almost certainly do exist, and can warp the fabric of space in unusual ways, it is only space that they warp, and ‘rates’ that they change. So, timelessly things really are much closer to the ‘spiral of cream’ (than a black-hole spiral of death); Because, when we jump 5mm across loops in the cream we just end up ‘physically’ before, or after where we started from, and the words ‘before’ and ‘after’ don’t have a time connotation.

Likewise, unless someone can prove time exists, it seems to make sense that ‘jumping spirals’ of twisted space around a black-hole, will only ever get you somewhere else, physically ahead of, or physically behind of, where you started.

Admittedly this short cut might even get you from A to B faster than anyone expects, possibly even faster than light itself, ‘how did you get here so quick!’, a fellow explorer might exclaim.

You may end up being stretched way out of shape, so much that you are even able to see yourself from behind when you look straight ahead;

It may even be possible that the space you are in, and therefore your own body, is so warped that you could even reach out straight in front of you and tap yourself on the shoulder, from behind... and then look round to see who did it!

 Now surely if you could do this then that at least suggests there would be some ‘causality’ paradoxes; i.e. situations where the effect of an event happens before the cause.

But this needn’t be the case, because you would be able to see, and possible tap, your warped and distorted body from behind, if your whole body was stretched and wrapped all the way around the black-hole, but not because there were two of you existing at once, or two of you existing over time, and affecting each other over time.

So the mystery of how you could tap yourself on the shoulder, then look round to see where the tap came from is no more paradoxical than if you literally just did that now; i.e. decide to tap yourself on the shoulder, then with your right arm reach behind your head and tap your left shoulder. Then if you want look over in that direction and see your own hand.

The point here is that it seems to me all of the bizarre effects linked with the idea of spacetime being distorted, can be fully explained in terms of just space being distorted, and things moving and being stretched ‘now’, in that distorted space with no need for time to play a role. (and all the tricks apparently producing ‘time travel’ seem to miss this point)


And so it seems that in distorted space there is no reason suspect that you would ever...

  • ‘be’ in two places at once
  • ever bump into another you from a different time,
  • or ever be able to create causality problems.

Causality now.

No time, means all causes and effects are simple things that happen as a result of one thing pushing another... and that’s it !

In twisted, warped and dilated space objects may seem straight, yet also be ‘curving round’ and interacting with themselves, as in the ‘curved tame warped space’ diagram.

And we can note that if our tame space probably not only warps ‘directions’, or ‘straightness’ but also ‘lengths’ and ‘speeds’. So in the diagram where one end of the straight yet curved ruler is say 10 cm from hitting itself ‘side on’, you may find you only have to push the free end 1 cm to make this happen[2].

Note also that with any of these diagrams, or topological contortions; the fact (in my opinion) that everything is all here now no matter how twisted, means an ‘ant’, or a whole line of ants, could always just walk happily from one end of the ruler to the other, even though from an ‘outside’ view they may seem to stretch and twist, speed up and slow down etc.

But (there is no reason to suspect other than that) this effect would always, constantly ‘add up’.

By ‘add up’, I mean add up very much like the way that a bug looked at through a magnifying glass off centre can seem to have massive legs on one side of its body that are still attached to and functioning with the rest of the creature; Or how the distortions of reflections in a fairground mirror might distort the image of a ruler or person in different way at different places, yet always constantly add up and work.

The fairground mirror may twist, stretch, compress, speed up and slow down[3] many different parts of the same image ‘simultaneously’, but we never suspect that time, matter, light or the fabric of space are in danger of being twisted impossibly, or violating causality.

The bad news is no exciting time travel journeys, killing your own grandfather, marrying your mother, sending lotto numbers from the future back to your past, or watching photos fade in your hand, and so on, but the good news is, at least no mad scientists can bring back a doomsday bomb from the future...then again we’ve already got enough.

[1] Disproving time is hard not just logically and technically but also because some people (like a kid at a magic show) don’t really want to hear a way that things can be explained more realistically. The up side is that the more we see the truth the less energy we spend chasing impossible ideas and the more we understand what else we really can do, things that we may have not even thought of before. So while it seems to me to be true that there is no space’time’, and so spacetime cannot be warped etc; there is ‘the fabric of space’, and warping this would make physical and unusual short cuts possible, and would also very significantly affect the ‘rates’ at which different things in different locations happened...now.

[2] Unlike what would happen if you simulated the effect with a hollowed out block and a flexible metal tape measure – in this case if the gap was 10 cm you would have to feed 10 cm in from the free end; and along its whole length the tape measure would move at the same rate.

[3] If you look at a distorting mirror and move your hand around from looking small to looking big, you will see how the reflection ‘has’ to speed up and slow down to make this work and always ‘add up’.