A group of academics at the University of Durham’s Institute of Computational Cosmology have been trying to make sense of what caused ‘supermassive’ black holes in space. Why? To work out what occurred in the earliest stages of the Universe and thereby understand more about how the whole puzzle happened and in the midst of all of that how the Earth was formed and what the future may hold for us.
For many of us watching the miracle of the Milky Way from the back garden may be enough. When the night sky is clear enough to allow us a sight of the familiar patterns made by stars that look so close together and yet are millions of miles apart it is wonderful just seeing how small we really are in the great scheme of things. Similarly, some folks are moved to join the Astronomical Society in Durham a highly recommended pursuit especially for youngsters with enquiring minds. Knowing the night sky is invaluable as an intellectual pursuit, and for navigators it is essential.
One wonders why people undertake research of this kind? Is it to prove an existing theory; the big bang, to demolish religious belief, or do they have an open mind and simply want to expand their knowledge, all laudable premises by the way but interesting just the same. However, one is not so sure about being told that the world might come to an end, before England have won the World Cup at least. Joking aside, sometimes less is more, would we really want to know?
Why, is a profoundly important question for anyone who is interested, not so much why physically, but philosophically. What is the meaning of it all? I guess there are libraries full of the why and the wherefore so we will spare you that. What is impressive, though, is that our University of Durham is a leading powerhouse generating young academics who will in time find answers to these questions and many more enabling the rest of us mere mortals to live on in relatively blissful ignorance whilst benefitting from their studies. Long may it continue.
Meanwhile, a black hole of a different sort is concerning many of us today. Highways engineers peering into a black hole on the A1M just now will be asking just that same question, why? The answer, at a guess, is likely to be mining settlement or similar. However, sink holes such as the one in the news are a worrying occurrence and rather closer to home, many things can cause them not least the flooding of recent months, changes in the ground levels etc. For many of us a gaping black hole on the A1M is rather more important to our daily life due to the inconvenience caused and the risk to life and limb.
Have a nice day, drive carefully and watch out for black holes.