Let’s keep our heads and go step by step –in spite of the gravity of the situation.
The above is a photo of James Clerk Maxwell Telescope somewhere on a volcano in Hawaii, its impressive, megalithic structure towering above the adjacent hills against the bright-blue starry sky (another incongruence; or is it a set-up?)
However, it will be necessary to provide more information, especially for our younger readers, for whom talking about 1969 might be the same as reminiscing about the Punic wars (over 2300 years ago). Thus, the Eagle is the name of the Lunar Module piloted by Armstrong which according to official NASA records and multiple TV sightings on 20 July 1969 landed on the Moon in a place called the Sea of Tranquillity, after which Armstrong reported to mission control, “Houston, Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed.”
It’s getting easier, however, when it comes to Powehi. As probably everybody knows this is the name given to the black hole just photographed, which in Hawaiian means embellished dark source of unending creation –on the authority of the Hawaiian language professor Larry Kimura. Can it possibly mean that the researchers who produced the photograph are in fact creationists?
It’s getting more difficult again, but we persevere. “Waiting for Godot” (pronounced God-oh) is a tragicomedy in two acts by Irish writer Samuel Beckett, published in 1952 in French as “En attendant Godot” and first produced in 1953. It is considered to be a truly innovative drama and the first great success of the Theatre of the Absurd. The play consists of conversations between Vladimir and Estragon, who are waiting for the arrival of the mysterious Godot, who continually sends word that he will appear, but who never does. They encounter Lucky and Pozzo, they discuss their miseries and their lives’ events, they consider hanging themselves, and yet they wait. Vladimir and Estragon are a pair of human beings who do not know why they were put on earth; they vaguely assume that there must be some point to their existence, and they look to Godot for enlightenment. They are hoping against hope for meaning and direction and thus they acquire a kind of nobility that enables them to rise above their futile existence.
The “epic imagery” of Powehi was captured by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT as you will have guessed) and is described by epic journalists turned Homer as “outlining the contours of the monster black hole lurking at the heart of the elliptical galaxy M87,” and supported by the epic extravaganza of glaring headlines such as:
BLACK HOLE PICTURE CAPTURED FOR FIRST TIME IN SPACE BREAKTHROUGH
EUREKA! BLACK HOLE PHOTOGRAPHED FOR 1ST TIME
FIRST SUPERMASSIVE BLACK HOLE PHOTOGRHAPHED
AN INTERNATIONAL COLLABORATION PRESENTS PARADIGM-SHIFTING OBSERVATIONS OF THE GARGANTUAN BLACK HOLE AT THE HEAR OF DISTANT GALAXY MESSIER 87
The announcement was made in simultaneous news conferences in Washington, Brussels, Santiago, Shanghai, Taipei and Tokyo as the European Commission, European Research Council, and the EHT Project detailed the finding of their mission. Why London and Paris were skipped has never been explained.
“This is a huge day in astrophysics,” said US National Science Foundation Director France Córdova. “We’re seeing the unseeable.”
Dr Shep Doeleman explained that they surveyed the Messier 87 galaxy in an effort to be able to picture the “supermassive black hole and its core.” This black hole resides about 54 million light-years from Earth. “We are delighted to be able to report to you today, we have seen… we have seen and taken a picture of a black hole,” Doeleman said. “Here it is”.
“What you are seeing is evidence of an event horizon,” he explained. “It is the strongest evidence that we have to date of the existence of black holes.”
Doeleman added that the milestone has “verified Einstein’s theory of gravity in this most extreme laboratory”.
Subsequently, astrophysicist Monika Moscibrodzka explained why the circle around the shadow of the black hole “is not really a full ring,” and is brighter at the bottom, apparently without anyone inquiring about it. Thus, it was not “the core” of the black hole that they captured, as affirmed by Dr Doeleman, but its shadow, that is “the ring”, not even full for that matter.
As you can see the photo was accompanied by a publicity splash on a much greater scale than all previous splashes and photographs, with several outlets heralding the arrival of the picture of the hole several days before. Finally, the photos “were unveiled at press events around the world and in a series of published papers”.
Our first thought –since we’ve been able to photograph a place 54 million light-years away in full colour, we might just as well try and photograph the Sea of Tranquillity (a mere 340 thousand km away for God’s sake) and see if the flag and the footprint are still there, and settle the question once and for all.
According to Event Horizon Telescope paper “Astronomers Capture First Image of a Black Hole” (unsigned) the basic (non-epic) facts are as follows:
The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) — a planet-scale array of eight ground-based radio telescopes forged through international collaboration —was designed to capture images of a black hole. The EHT links telescopes around the globe to form an Earth-sized virtual telescope with unprecedented sensitivity and resolution. The EHT is the result of years of international collaboration, and offers scientists a new way to study the most extreme objects in the Universe predicted by Einstein’s general relativity during the centennial year of the historic experiment that first confirmed the theory. Creating the EHT was a formidable challenge which required upgrading and connecting a worldwide network of eight pre-existing telescopes deployed at a variety of challenging high-altitude sites. These locations included volcanoes in Hawai`i and Mexico, mountains in Arizona and the Spanish Sierra Nevada, the Chilean Atacama Desert, and Antarctica. Although the telescopes are not physically connected, they are able to synchronize their recorded data with atomic clocks —hydrogen masers— which precisely time their observations. This black hole resides 55 million light-years from Earth and has a mass 6.5 billion times that of the Sun.
We haven’t read everything on the EHT obviously, but from what we’ve read we haven’t been actually able to deduce what the EHT is. Does the sentence “the EHT links telescopes around the globe” refer to the eight pre-existing telescopes? Can eight telescopes be really called “a planet-scale array” or an “Earth sized virtual telescope”? What if everything is indeed “virtual”? Why aren’t all eight locations stated and named? Most of all, we haven’t been able to find out the cost of the whole decades-long operation (how many decades exactly?)
Furthermore, it’s impossible to deduce the nature of the “breakthrough” mentioned in several headlines. What actually do we have on the table? How does it help us understand what on Earth we are doing here on Earth? We have a photograph of an allegedly black hole and it is likely that we shall have in the near future a photograph of another black hole. And? If tomorrow astrophysics discovers two million galaxies more, will it solve any of mankind’s problems? The hole just photographed “resides” 55 million light-years from Earth and weighs 6.5 billion times more than the Sun. This is not saying much since we cannot imagine the distance of one light-year or the weight of the Sun anyway. Last but not least, these are mathematical measurements and almost anything can be proved mathematically. Bottom line –we are asked to have faith. Many people do.
This frantically epic effort in the field of astrophysics is in fact rather pitiful. Does anyone in their right mind care about what is going on 54 million light-years away when we don’t know what’s going round the corner –for example what happened to the Malaysian flight 370 mysteriously vanished in 2014. Finding out what it was would be of much more consequence than the Powehi photograph not only for the families of the disappeared, but also for future air travellers in general.
The fact is –astrophysics is in hot water. One of the symptoms of the astrophysical scald is the countless statements in all available media which emphasize the fact that Einstein’s theory has been confirmed and verified not only at the cosmic scale, but also at the subatomic one, the Powehi photograph being the proof of the former. This insistence makes us think that in fact doubts are abundant. It should be added that Einstein called, quite honestly, his approach to understanding the universe Gedankenexperiment, which means “thought experiment” in the German language –Einstein’s mother tongue.
Albert Einstein. Is he laughing at his own theories? // Curved space-time; from How Einstein’s general theory of relativity killed off common-sense physics, by D.Lyth.
Einstein formulated his theory of special relativity in 1905. At the very basis of his final theory we find his thoughts about the relationship between mass and energy embodied by the formula E = mc2, where c equals 300,000 km per second (the speed of light). However, we now know that we don’t know what exactly “mass” is. Hence, the emergence of such notions as “dark matter” and “dark energy”. Also, gravity is no longer seen as a force of atraction two objects exert on each other. Furthermore, there are quarks and truly weird particles that are “massless”. Finally, these days we’re dealing with quantum electrodynamics, which, unlike one’s reflections on the cosmos, can be verified by observation.
Although the atomic bomb proved that vast amounts of energy could be liberated from the atom, it did not demonstrate the precision of Einstein’s equation. As knowledge of the atom developed in the 20th century, it was discovered that the protons and neutrons that form its nucleus are themselves formed from the more elementary subatomic particles known as quarks, bound together by massless gluons, in the theory of quantum chromodynamics. However, quarks account for only about 5 percent of an atom’s mass, leaving the vast remainder of its mass to be explained. In 2008, following intense computations led by Laurent Lellouch of France’s Centre for Theoretical Physics on various supercomputers, the missing mass was shown to reside in the energy associated with the subatomic particles’ motions and interactions—in other words, Einstein’s equation was verified at the subatomic scale.
Encyclopedia Britannica, Einstein’s mass-energy relation
However, what the Laurent Lellouch Centre may have proved actually is that “mass” does not exist and that everything is “energy”. Thus, the famous (according to the official propaganda) formula could be re-designed as E = c2, where E stands for “existence”. It could also be noted in passing that supercomputers may be useful, especially if “various” and “intense”, but it is a fact that Einstein was only interested in one thing –making the atomic bomb. The rest was just Gedankenexperiment. So what would happen if Einstein’s theory became a skeleton in the cupboard? Well, a lot of things, apart from mass, would go missing, black holes and wormholes among them. Even Mars might go missing for that matter.
In 1905 and even in 1953, when “Waiting for Godot” was first produced, the world was still young. Television was just a baby, the Internet was unheard-of, the mass media were missing. There were some newspapers and 8 o’clock news. Radio was still popular and much admired. Back then it was easy to talk about Moon landings and the conquest of space. Anything went as there was no way one could check anything on one’s own. Not so today. Not that we can go to the North Pole and see for ourselves what’s going on there, but there is tremendous amount of data available on the Internet and lots of people browsing through them. Many of those people are mathematicians, engineers or physicists. Many among them are convinced that they smell a rat as regards official information on space. There is even a growing sector among those enthusiasts who claim that the Earth is flat –and they are able to provide reasons, many of which are indeed convincing. There are those in the official quarters who call it “another conspiracy theory”, but it should be remembered that conspiracy theories pop up only because things are not clear or when observation contradicts the theory. Anyone can not only feel, but also observe that the Earth is motionless and that they are not upside down in a room which whirls, spins and rotates together with them at an unimaginable speed. Anyone can wonder how the ocean water is able to maintain the perfect curve under such inauspicious circumstances. Clearly, very simple observations contradict all space agencies so why can’t we insist on more convincing answers? Thus, he who contradicts our everyday observation and experience is the one who should provide the necessary evidence and not the other way round.
The point is that the West, as in 1953, is waiting for Godot. Beckett’s play was about God and the meaning of our existence, if any. Today, space agencies have replaced god God with god Space –the conquest, the landing, the colonization of Mars, meteorite harvesting… God Space “sends word” from time to time, exactly as Beckett’s god God did, and mankind keeps waiting (only that some have already hanged themselves). A few days ago god Space sent a photograph. How much did this photograph (if true) cost? Imagine!
Is there anything wrong with the good old Earth? Why this sickly fixation on finding the alleged inhabitants of deep space? Why the insistence on going to Mars –inhospitable and uninhabitable body which can hardly be called celestial. Only unbalanced mind would want to live there, even if after a million years some sort of atmosphere were provided. Yet, those fairy tales are the necessary elements to keep the show –the materialistic system of values– going. What do you think would happen if it were announced that our universe is closed, has boundaries and a roof, protective and protected at the same time? Obviously, that would mean there is a Creator and that would be a real and true breakthrough, although for the authorities it might result in a cataclysmic event. Therefore, the status quo must be maintained at all cost and that’s why everyone –Russia, the US, China and now, apparently, Japan and Israel– is collaborating; everyone’s is putting their shoulder to the wheel which is going to crush us.
(22) Os ha extendido la Tierra como si fuera una alfombra y ha levantado el firmamento como una sólida estructura. Hace caer agua del cielo y que con ella broten frutos de los que coméis. Así pues, ya que sabéis, no deis poder a otros que a Allah.
Qur-an 2 – al Baqara
(19) Hemos extendido la Tierra y hemos puesto en ella cordilleras. Hacemos que todo lo que en ella crece lo haga hasta alcanzar el peso que le hemos predeterminado. (20) Hemos puesto en ella medios de subsistencia para vosotros y para aquellos a quienes no podéis proveer.
Qur-an 15– al Hijr