SCIENCE

Black Holes, Big Bang, And Beyond: Brian Greene Talks Physics (VIDEO)

Have you ever wondered what happens at the center of a black hole? Is it simply a dense, hot core filled with crushed matter? Is there such a place as "the other side" of a black hole? If so, where does it lead?

Perhaps it serves a portal to one of many realms that comprise the so-called multiverse. Or perhaps, all that we have come to know as reality is nothing more than an elaborate hologram.

To gain insights into these awesome concepts in modern theoretical physics, I met up with Brian Greene, professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia University, co-founder of the World Science Festival in New York, and author of four popular science books. Watch the video above and/or click the link below to learn more. And don't forget to weigh in by leaving a comment at the bottom of the page. Talk nerdy to me!

BRIAN GREENE: A black hole is a region of space where there is such a powerful gravitational force that anything that gets too close can’t escape, so any matter that gets too close, even light itself can’t escape this region and for that reason the region goes black.

CARA SANTA MARIA: Hi everyone. Cara Santa Maria here. And that's Brian Greene, theoretical physicist and author of four popular science books. He's also the co-founder of the World Science Festival in New York City, where I met up with him to talk about black holes, the mysteries lying deep within their cores, and what they may tell us about the origins of the universe.

BG: The size of a black hole is determined by its mass, how much stuff is crushed in the center, but how do you crush say a whole star into a little tiny nugget, a little tiny region in the center of a black hole? We’re not completely sure yet what actually happens there. We call it a singularity, which is basically a fancy word for saying we don’t really know what’s going on down there, and that’s one of the big puzzles about black hole physics that we’re still struggling to understand.

CSM: And learning more about black hole cosmology may eventually unlock some of the mysteries that have plagued scientists and philosophers for millennia. Where did we come from? Why are we here? What existed before time and space?

BG: There’s a deep connection between black holes and the big bang. I mean after all, we think of a black hole as a region where a lot of mass is crushed to a very small size. We think of the big bang as a moment when the entire observable universe was crushed to a very small size. So they’re kind of the same in some deep mathematical sense, and as of today we don’t really know what happens at the center of a black hole and we don’t really know what happened at the moment of the big bang so these are two puzzles that are cousins of one another and anything that we learn about one is certainly going to shed light on the other.

CSM: Some physicists think that the singularity, the oneness of matter, space, and time that lies at the very center of a black hole may actually serve as a gateway to another universe--a realm that exists beyond the observable boundaries of our own. Even more fantastic is the speculation that our own universe, and possibly our very existence, may be nothing more than a hologram.

BG: If you ask yourself the question, what happens when an object falls over the edge of a black hole, what we call the event horizon, where does the object go? Well the simplest answer, and one that was espoused by Stephen Hawking for a long time was, when an object falls over the edge of a black hole it’s just gone, completely gone, all the information it contains would be gone. So if you threw your iPad across the edge of a black hole, everything you downloaded, all the information, disappears from the universe. The problem is there’s a deep-long quantum mechanics that basically says information can’t be destroyed, it can’t really go away, you might be able to hide the information but it can’t simply be gone. So there seems to be a tension between black holes and this issue of the information that objects have when they fall in. And modern insights due to people like Leonard Susskind and Gerard ’t Hooft seem to suggest that the information carried by an object when it falls into a black hole gets kind of smeared out, a copy of it gets smeared out on the surface of a black hole. It was not lost. Hawking was not correct. Now if you learn that the information of an object can be smeared on the surface of a black hole, well, is that limited just to black holes? Some suggest no. Some think that the information that we see all around us is actually encoded on a big surface that surrounds us, a thin two-dimensional surface that sort of is like a hologram. A hologram is a thin, two-dimensional piece of plastic. You illuminate it and it creates a three-dimensional image. We may be the three-dimensional image projected from this two-dimensional surface of information at the edge of the universe. We might be in that sense holograms.

CSM: Chew on that for a while. Let's start a conversation. Reach out to me on Twitter, Facebook, or leave a comment right here on The Huffington Post. Come on, talk nerdy to me!

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