Rene Breton of Jodrell Bank give us a talk called “The Hitch Hikers Guide to Black Holes”. The talk certainly filled in a few “holes” in my knowledge. It was well received and a number of questions were asked which Rene was able to answer to the members’ satisfaction.

Well the first thing to say black holes are not holes but depressions in the space time continuum in which a massive object sits. Matter continues to orbit the object; stars, gas etc. as usual.

Rene’s animations were funny, informative and to the point. He showed what would happen if a man approached a black hole and how the nearer he got to the depression the more elongated he would become. The word for this effect is Spaghettification. I kid you not. This will stay long in my memory. In fact the nearer you get the more “spaghettified” you become and as you slide into the depression one of two things happen. You either slide in whole or you split in two and one piece goes in and the other is catapulted out into space.

Because of the depression in the space time continuum, we do not see inside, as light cannot escape the curvature.

Unfortunately the term BLACK HOLE was coined by a journalist and has given the wrong impression of the object.

He showed us video of experiments to do with gravity, including the one his colleague Brian Cox did in a vacuum chamber with a ball and a feather, proving they fell at the same speed. I have received emails praising the talk and have sent a thank you mail to Rene.

Overall it was a great talk and anything I write here will not do it justice.