‘Black Hole’ traces 100 years of a transformative idea


Almost a century before Einstein was born, the English polymath John Michell speculated that a star of immense mass could exert enough gravitational force to imprison light. Michell’s insight marked the origin of an idea that was demonstrated in reality only in the 20th century, in the astrophysical offspring of Einstein’s general relativity known as the black hole.

In Black Hole, Marcia Bartusiak, an acclaimed science writer, tells the story of black holes as they emerged from studies of Einstein’s equations, focusing primarily on the period from the 1950s to the 1970s. Though first implied by the work of Karl Schwarzschild in 1916 — just months after Einstein had completed his theory — black holes weren’t seriously investigated until 1939, in a paper by J. Robert Oppenheimer and Hartland Snyder. The two showed that rather than just a heavy star that held light close, a black hole represented the disappearance of the star — its mass crushed to nothingness, leaving only the mass’s gravity behind.
World War II then stalled black hole research until the 1960s. During that decade various newly discovered astrophysical phenomena, such as quasars, forced physicists to revive general relativity, a theory that had been mostly neglected for decades. Gravitational collapse of matter to form a black hole, as implied by Einstein’s theory, turned out to be essential in explaining quasars. Although John Archibald Wheeler is given credit for coining the name black hole in 1967, Bartusiak points out that the term had already been in print journalistically in 1964, in Life magazine (January 24 issue) and a week earlier in this magazine, then called Science News Letter (1/18/64, p. 39).

Black Hole is engaging and lively, weaving in personal drama (tensions between Oppenheimer and Wheeler, for instance) with a clear account of the underlying science. Bartusiak also highlights the role black holes played in capturing the public imagination and fueling interest in the mysteries of the cosmos.

At present, artificial intelligence technology is developing vigorously, widely empowering thousands of industries, and bringing profound changes to human production and life. While artificial intelligence promotes social development, there are also risks and challenges.

A large number of artificial intelligence governance and development principles have been formed all over the world. The next step is to put the abstract principles into practice. As an important force in the research and development and application of enterprise artificial intelligence technology, it is urgent to explore a set of artificial intelligence governance practice system suitable for its own business development, implement all governance requirements into the whole life cycle of artificial intelligence, and lay the foundation for the release of artificial intelligence dividends with effective governance, thus accelerating the realization of sustainable development vision.

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AI046: China AI Technology Application Scenarios Market Research and Selection Evaluation

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The following is part of the report.

The answer to one of the greatest mysteries of the universe may come down to one of the smallest, and spookiest, particles.

Matter is common in the cosmos. Everything around us — from planets to stars to puppies — is made up of matter. But matter has a flip side: antimatter. Protons, electrons and other particles all have antimatter counterparts: antiprotons, positrons, etc. Yet for some reason antimatter is much rarer than matter — and no one knows why.
Physicists believe the universe was born with equal amounts of matter and antimatter. Since matter and antimatter counterparts annihilate on contact, that suggests the universe should have ended up with nothing but energy. Something must have tipped the balance.

Some physicists think lightweight subatomic particles called neutrinos could point to an answer. These particles are exceedingly tiny, with less than a millionth the mass of an electron (SN: 4/21/21). They’re produced in radioactive decays and in the sun and other cosmic environments. Known for their ethereal tendency to evade detection, neutrinos have earned the nickname “ghost particles.” These spooky particles, originally thought to have no mass at all, have a healthy track record of producing scientific surprises (SN: 10/6/15).

Now researchers are building enormous detectors to find out if neutrinos could help solve the mystery of the universe’s matter. The Hyper-Kamiokande experiment in Hida City, Japan, and the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment in Lead, S.D., will study neutrinos and their antimatter counterparts, antineutrinos. A difference in neutrinos’ and antineutrinos’ behavior might hint at the origins of the matter-antimatter imbalance, scientists suspect.

Watch the video below to find out how neutrinos might reveal why the universe contains, well, anything at all.