On the edge of a black hole in space, time stops. If we move away after a few minutes, a million years might have elapsed in the rest of the universe. I know what you’re thinking, and it sounds crazy to me as well. There must be lots of mad scientists roaming around avoiding captivity.
Here’s another bizarre idea: an object falling towards a black hole takes an infinite time to reach it. And yet — get this — nothing escapes from a black hole, not even light, so how can anyone see what’s really going on, when it’s pitch-black out there? Could even a partially-sane scientist answer that?
According to one astronomer, it turns out that space isn’t a real thing after all, and if you’ve spent a lot of money buying some recently, you should take it back to the shop. It may have looked good in the window display, but things can often seem different when you get them back home.
Watches near black holes appear to tick more slowly, consequently it might be an idea to keep the guarantee certificate for the Rolex you bought from that man in the pub. Even if the ink wasn’t dry when he handed you the 2-week warranty.
The ‘event horizon’ is also called ‘the boundary of no escape,’ because there are no paths that lead away from black holes, or to the end of them. I once got lost at night in the Black Forest near Heidelberg in Germany — I still have the mental scars to prove it — which was one occasion when my Swiss Army knife was useless, since I didn’t find a horse with a stone in its shoe. So I have some experience of paths leading nowhere. I never sing songs containing the words, “My knapsack on my back.” I am not a happy wanderer, although I do smile when offered Black Forest gateau.
There are certain occasions, of course, when we all experience time slowing down. Standing outside a bank which is due to open in five minutes can sometimes stretch to a lifetime, especially when we see the keyholder through the window, still fast asleep at her desk. Staff training, I think they call it. Wakening her too abruptly might cause withdrawal symptoms.
Kicking one’s heels in a hospital corridor waiting for news of an accident-prone friend hit by a cricket ball is like watching paint dry in slow motion. Or watching a game of cricket. Just as well time heals.
There is a positive side to the idea of a black hole being a destination with no return ticket. If we can somehow round up all the remaining coronaviruses still at large, and load them into a giant wheelbarrow, we could then tip the contents into an inescapable room whose only door says, “No Way Out! Gotcha, suckers!” That would teach viruses not to mess with humans. Why, in the course of time, it might even make black holes think twice about interfering with our watches.