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Name: Jim Murray
Status: N/a
Age: N/A
Location: N/A
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Date: Around 1993


Question:
I just read an American Scientist article by Shapiro & Teukolsky about naked singularities forming from matter shaped as a prolate spheroid. How can a singularity not be cloaked in a black hole? What would a naked singularity look like in space?



Replies:
Well, a singularity is a very unpleasant thing in physics - basically it means you have a place where things "blow up" - that is, diverge to infinity, and it usually means there is something wrong with the theory. People up till now have not been too upset about singularities in Einstein's theories because they thought they were always cloaked in black holes. Now it turns out they are not. Basically, a black hole is defined by the paths that light takes. Light cannot escape from inside a black hole. Since part of this singularity is outside a black hole, presumably light can escape from it. But, since something in the gravitational fields is diverging at this point, it would definitely be a very unpleasant place to even be near to. Probably would be fascinating to drop stuff into though - you could actually see matter being crushed and torn apart by arbitrarily large forces.

A. Smith



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