Physicists have discovered that rotating black holes might serve as portals for hyperspace travel

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  • Scientists once thought that traveling into a black hole would kill you.
  • But now, physicists have run computer simulations to show that certain types of black holes — large, rotating ones — could serve as portals for hyperspace travel.
  • Some physicists believe that you’d arrive at a remote part of the Milky Way or perhaps in another galaxy altogether.
  • One of the safest passageways might be the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy, called Sagittarius A*.

Following is a transcript of the video.

Narrator: Black holes skirt the line between science fiction and science fact. On the one hand, scientists have seen real black holes in action, consuming unsuspecting stars that pass too close. But where reality ends and fiction takes over is at the edge of a black hole — a place called the event horizon, where no spacecraft has ever gone.

So, whatever happens beyond that boundary, inside of a black hole, is anyone’s guess. Scientists agree that if you travel far enough into a black hole, gravity will eventually become so strong that it kills anything in its path. But sci-fi films are more optimistic, depicting black holes as portals through space and time or gateways to other dimensions. And it turns out, some scientists now think the sci-fi buffs may be onto something. Black holes might be suitable for hyperspace travel, after all; it just takes the right kind of black hole.

At the center of every black hole is a point of infinite density, called a singularity. It’s what gives black holes their strong gravitational pull. And for decades, scientists thought singularities were all the same, so anything that passed the event horizon would be destroyed the same way: by being stretched and pulled like an infinitely long piece of spaghetti.

But that all changed in the early 1990s when different research teams in Canada and the US discovered a second singularity called a "mass inflation singularity." It still has a strong gravitational pull, but it would only stretch you by a finite amount, and potentially NOT kill you in the process, meaning, you might survive the trip through a black hole. More specifically, through a large, rotating black hole, which is where these types of singularities exist.

Now, astronomers obviously can’t travel through a black hole yet to test this theory. In fact, the best place to test this is at the supermassive black hole in the center of our home galaxy, the Milky Way, which is 27,000 light years away. Not conveniently close to the least.

Therefore, scientists instead run computer simulations to see what would happen if we did manage to reach an isolated, rotating black hole, and now, for the first time, a team of scientists at UMass Dartmouth and Georgia Gwinnett College has done exactly that.

Lior Burko: "You would feel a slight increase in temperature, but it would not be a dramatic increase. It’s just that you don’t have enough time to respond to the very strong forces. It would just go through you too quickly."

Narrator: He added that passing through a weak singularity is like quickly running your finger through a candle flame that’s 1,000 degrees Celsius. If you hold your finger in the flame long enough, you’ll get burned, but pass your finger through quickly, and you’ll barely feel a thing. Similarly, if you pass through a weak singularity with the right speed and momentum, and at the right time, you may not feel much at all.

As for what happens once you get through to the other side, no one really knows, but Burko has his own ideas. He says one possibility is that we’d arrive at some other remote part of our galaxy, potentially light years away from any planets or stars, but a second, and perhaps more intriguing, possibility is that we’d arrive in a different galaxy altogether. That’s if you even make it that far.

Scientists say more research is needed before we’re anywhere close to successfully traveling through a black hole. But when we are ready, one of the safest passageways might be the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy called Sagittarius A*, and it might just be our ticket out of the Milky Way.

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This week in tech history: The birth of the internet and the first telephone call

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At Engadget, we spend every day looking at how technology will shape the future. But it’s also important to look back at how far we’ve come — that’s what This Week in Tech History will do. Join us every weekend for a recap of historical tech news, anniversaries and advances from the recent and not-so-recent past. This week, we’re looking back at the creation of the internet, the first successful telephone call and the birth of the man who shaped modern physics as we know it.

The World Wide Web turns 30 (March 12, 1989)

Portugal: Web Summit 2018 - Day 1

The internet as we know it now is probably the defining technological achievement of the last generation, and it turned 30 this week. On March 12th, 1989, Tim Berners-Lee made his first proposal for a data-sharing service while working at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). Later in the year, he made the first successful transfer between an HTTP client and a server. So while we’re really just celebrating the birth of an idea that didn’t come to life for another eight months, it was one hell of an idea.

Unfortunately, such a monumental innovation has had its share of unintended consequences. Berners-Lee himself is well aware of the internet’s many shortcomings, from the proliferation of fake news and the outsized voice it provides hate-filled trolls to the way a handful of tech giants have used it to consolidate power across a variety of industries from advertising to entertainment and beyond. And then there’s the vast digital divide that exists between people with fast, reliable internet and the many places where that’s still not an option.

Despite the problems it has created, the internet is still worth celebrating. While there are many serious issues with the internet in its current form, the fundamental ability to share vast swaths of data faster than we ever thought possible and communicate globally instantly is hugely important. That’s important for high-minded scientific, educational and safety concerns, sure, but it also lets the average person video chat with their parents from across the country, check their bank balance instantly, listen to nearly any song you can think of… the list is incredibly long. Yes, we’re in a period of reckoning with what we want the internet to be, but there’s no doubt it’s is worth fighting for.

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First successful telephone call (March 10, 1876)

Before the internet, we had the telephone. Well, we still do, but let’s be honest, most of us carry our cellphones around because they can get us online anywhere we are. But until the rise of the internet, the telephone was probably the most transformative piece of communication technology the world had ever seen. And on March 10th, 1876, inventor Alexander Graham Bell placed the first successful telephone call to his assistant in the next room over. "Mr. Watson, come here; I want to see you" were the first words Bell spoke and successfully transmitted over his telephone.

Bell, like his father before him, spent much of his career studying speech and voice, becoming a professor of vocal physiology at Boston University in 1873. He eventually spent time working on a system to transmit over a telegraph-like system, building what would become the telephone with engineer Thomas Watson. In June of 1875, Bell and Watson transmitted sound vibrations between two receivers — no intelligible words were heard, but human-like sounds were heard on the receiving end.

By March of 1876, the system had improved enough that Bell believed it could transmit full speech. He had also filed for a patent for his system, which was awarded just three days before the successful March 10th test. Less than six months later, Bell tested his invention with a call placed over a two-mile distance. Obviously, that’s still a long way from the instantaneous, worldwide communication the telephone offers now, but it was a landmark development nonetheless.

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Albert Einstein born (March 14, 1879)

Summing up the achievements and discoveries of Albert Einstein in a few hundred words is essentially impossible, but suffice to say he’s one of history’s most preeminent physicists. Born in Germany on March 14th, 1879, Einstein eventually moved to Switzerland and studied at the Federal Polytechnic Academy in Zurich. In 1905, Einstein earned his Ph.D. from the University of Zurich and published five papers that included his theory of relativity and his discovery that mass and energy were equivalent, which led to his famous E=mc^2 equation.

Over the years, much of his work was observed and validated, perhaps most notably in 1919 when astronomers studying a solar eclipse verified his general theory of relativity. At a high level, he theorized that gravity was a curved field in space-time rather than a pure force, as Isaac Newton had believed. Einstein believed the field was created by mass, which is why truly massive space objects like the sun would bend space and time.

Later in his life, Einstein settled in the United States, becoming a US citizen in 1940 and working from Princeton, NJ until his death in 1955. All told, he published more than 300 scientific papers during his life. No, he didn’t invent the precursor to the smartphone in your pocket, but he did basically shape the modern conversation of physics and our understanding of the structure of the universe. If you’re inspired to dig into Einstein’s work in more depth, biographer and science writer Andrew Robinson has five Einstein biographies (in addition to his own) to recommend over at Five Books.

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10 crowdfunded products that you absolutely need in your life

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10 crowdfunded products that you absolutely need in your life

Spending your hard-earned cash on something that’s still being crowdfunded is always a gamble because you never know if the thing you’re investing in will every make it to your doorstep. 

That’s why we’ve collected this list of 10 snazzy crowdfunded projects that actually went into production. As if that wasn’t good enough, each product in this list is also on sale.

There are few things more nourishing to the soul than replacing your morning commute with a smooth skateboard ride. But on the flip side, there are few things more inconvenient than having to carry around a skateboard all day.

That’s what makes Linky so special: this high-performance mini-vehicle is also collapsible enough to fit in a backpack at your office or on a plane ride. The electronic battery inside has a 12-mile range, and can charge up to 85% in just 30 minutes. It’s also app and Bluetooth compatible, meaning you can monitor data from the board however you want.

Normally $1,099, you can snag one on sale for just $949.

RokBlok is a sleek device that enables you to play your favorite vinyls anywhere, without a plug or even separate speakers. Now there’s no reason to convert your vinyl collection to MP3 for your camping trip, no reason to leave your records behind at all. Plus, the way it works is genuinely a neat party trick: the device rests on top of the record and circles it like a race car, all the while blasting your favorite tunes.

The RokBlok is on sale for just $99, but you can save an additional 10% with code ROK10.

The Yaasa Elements blanket is more than just a way to keep warm on chilly nights — this is the world’s most powerful all-in-one wellness blanket, made from SeaCell recovery-supporting technology that promotes local blood flow and aids faster recovery after physical activity. If you’re trying to maximize your gains at the gym or just take better care of your body, this blanket can make a surprisingly large impact.

Normally $249, you can pick up a Yaasa Elements Throw Blanket on sale for just $189.

Are you one of those people who’s so worried about losing their keys, that after reading this sentence you can’t help but pat your pocket and try and see if they’re still there? This is the exact problem KeySmart solves: it doesn’t just help you find your keys, it helps you stop worrying that they’ll get lost in the first place.

This simple device holds up to 10 keys and then connects to your phone to be easily located via a loud beep if you ever lose it. Another neat perk: if you happen to lose your phone but have your keys, the technology also works in reverse.

KeySmart Pro is available for just $59.99.

In 2019, there’s simply no excuse for setting your phone flatly on a table, like some kind of peasant neanderthal troglodyte. Anybody who’s anybody spends their smartphone Netflix time watching their phone propped at a nice comfortable angle. Made from bamboo, the FODI origami stand can make this happen.

Normally $19.99, the FODI Origami Multi-Purpose Device Stand is on sale for just $14.99.

Sleep is one of the most important things you do, but it’s hard to tell if you’re doing a good job at it because you are, by definition, asleep when it happens. That’s what makes this device so useful: after you attach it to your finger, it monitors your body’s activity all through the night and even delivers vibrations to increase the chances of you changing positions, therefore helping to reduce sleep apnea. In the morning, you have yourself a full report of how your sleep went, and some advice on how to improve it.

GO2SLEEP is available for just $129.

There are three ways to learn guitar: First, you can buy one, stick it in your closet, and never touch it again. This way doesn’t work. Second, you can hire a teacher. This works, but is expensive.

Third, you can buy Fret Zealot: a clever gateway to learning songs. You simply attach the device to any guitar, and the LED lights tell you exactly where your fingers should go, allowing you to concentrate on technique and style rather than any other petty distraction.

Fret Zealot is available for just $199.

This device takes online precaution to a level you’ve probably never considered before: it helps you make sure nobody is accessing your data and devices by hacking into your WiFi. The so-called “Intelligent Intrusion Detection” notifies you if anything acts suspicious, so you can spring into action.

Normally $249.99, you can pick up the Gryphon Secure Router on sale for just $229.99.

This map turns your history of travel into a work of art by allowing you to “scratch off” the countries you’ve visited, making it a piece of art that’s completely unique to you and your life. Of course, nobody’s policing this for you, so you can also just scratch off all the countries you want to visit. 

Normally $45, the World Travel Tracker Scratch Off Map is on sale for $22.99.

Ever have trouble packing? If you answered “no,” you’re a liar, and if you answered “yes,” you’re going to love this seven-piece Vasco Packing Cube set.

Normally $159.99, these packing cubes are on sale for just $99.

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