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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Hawking Radiation, and how something comes from nothing all the time!

You too can begin to understand Black Holes, Hawking Radiation, Virtual Particles, and the strange quantum world of how "something" comes "nothing" all the time, everywhere!

Here's my story. And I'm sticking with it!  :-)

While perusing the Internet one day, namely today, I ran across a brilliant video by the BBC on Hawking radiation. Okay, I didn't just run across it - I was specifically looking for Hawking Radiation related stuff. But only because I was looking for easy references that I could link to in my comments on someone else's posts.

I happened to be arguing that it is not so ridiculous to imagine that our universe may have indeed essentially been created as a result of quantum fluctuations within the "nothingness" of a vacuum. To me, the spontaneous creation of virtual particles, seems to negate any need for a supernatural force, or god(s) to be involved at all. After all, the creation of these virtual particles doesn't require any supernatural explanation since they are consequence of quantum fluctuations and the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle.

But that particular argument isn't really the subject of this particular post. Instead, it is my attempt to perhaps enlighten a mind or two about what some of the most brilliant people that have ever existed on Earth are thinking!

And, just who the heck am I to argue with Stephen Hawking who is one of those geniuses?! Now can you guess who Hawking Radiation is named after?

The video below is only about 6 minutes long and is well worth a look! It is presented quite simply and doesn't give a lot a scientific mumbo jumbo, and is emminently watchable and even enjoyable by the general population.

So, let's get right to it then - the video:

Now, the information in this video is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. There's actually a whole lot more to it than this. But the video should at least give you a good beginner's grip on just what the Theory of Hawking Radiation is all about.

It is worth mentioning again that the pairs of particles popping into and out of existence are a result of quantum fluctuations and are a special consequence of  something called the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. As such, these virtual particles are not "created" by anyone/thing, and are instead simply due to the properties of "the vacuum" which really isn't a true vacuum of nothingness at all. A true vacuum with absolutely nothing in it doesn't exist in our universe, believe it or not!

Oh, and one more note (from the Universe Today link below) about Black Holes ultimately exploding as is mentioned near the end of the video above:

We won't see any of the black holes in the Milky Way explode any time soon though … not only are they likely still gaining mass (from the cosmic microwave background, at least), but a one sol black hole would take over 10^67 [sic; that's 1 followed by 67 zeros!] years to evaporate (the universe is only 13 billion years old)!

More information on Hawking Radiation, and a picture of Stephen Hawking himself floating weightless can be found at a Universe Today page.

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