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Thread: Need help with lyrical writing about black holes!

  1. #1 Need help with lyrical writing about black holes! 
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    Hey all,

    I wanted to tell a Sci-fi story through lyrics of a humanoid civilization on an earth like planet threatened by a rogue black hole and the rush to find a way to carry life to a new planet. Slightly influenced by "When Worlds Collide" Humor me as I ask these question most of you may find silly.

    Question 1: Is it possible for the event horizon of a black hole that formed in a nearby solar system to expand to reach an earth like planet orbiting around another star?

    Question 2: How does a rogue black hole differ from an ordinary stellar black hole?

    Question 3: Is the segment of this BBC documentary plausible at all? What effects would a black hole have if one entered our solar system?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vlSCg...watch_response

    From what I've read the effects of a black hole on a planet are actually rather...boring? This is the only documentary that gave exciting possibilities!

    Question 4: If you were to think in terms of science fiction are there any interesting and slightly plausible ways to use a black hole as a source of energy for propulsion?

    I'll stop there for now. I'll follow up with more depending on the responses I get. Like I said it's science fiction but i'd like to write about ideas that are somewhat plausible. When it comes to telling a story like this it's hard not to touch on ideas that haven't been done to death. Aliens, commits, rogue planets... I'm sure the idea of a black hole has been done before, but it's what I'd like to use as the external threat.


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  3. #2 Re: Need help with lyrical writing about black holes! 
    Forum Junior c186282's Avatar
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    This sounds like fun.

    Quote Originally Posted by Waystheskyburns
    Question 1: Is it possible for the event horizon of a black hole that formed in a nearby solar system to expand to reach an earth like planet orbiting around another star?
    The only way for an event horizon to grow is for the black hole to become more massive and that can only happen with the accumulation of more matter from stars, dust whatever. If the black hole is accumulating a lot of matter then it would not look so black because of all of the radiation given off from the stuff falling in and the jets that will shoot out the poles. I would suggest not having your black holes event horizon grow. But instead have a large black hole moving towards the solar system.

    Quote Originally Posted by Waystheskyburns
    Question 2: How does a rogue black hole differ from an ordinary stellar black hole?
    A black hole is a black hole. In one sense they are the simplest objects around. They are uniquely described by their mass, charge, spin and entropy (Others, did I miss any?) A rouge black hole would most likely be a small to medium size that has been thrown out of some complex gravitational interactions that took place in an area of the galaxy that is much more dense that our location out in one of the arms.

    Quote Originally Posted by Waystheskyburns
    Question 3: Is the segment of this BBC documentary plausible at all? What effects would a black hole have if one entered our solar system?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vlSCg...watch_response

    From what I've read the effects of a black hole on a planet are actually rather...boring? This is the only documentary that gave exciting possibilities!
    Far from the event horizon the main concern would be the tidal forces that the rogue black hole would produce on the orbits of planets and on the planets them selves. Keep in mind tidal forces are not a function of the strength of the gravity but are a function of the spacial change in gravity. Example: The force of the sun on the earth is much grater than the force of the moon on the earth. But the moon effects tides more that the sun.

    Quote Originally Posted by Waystheskyburns
    Question 4: If you were to think in terms of science fiction are there any interesting and slightly plausible ways to use a black hole as a source of energy for propulsion?
    Interstellar space to a new habitable planet is hard and long! We get space probes to the outer planets by using flybys of the inner planets. This can be done because the inner planets are moving very fast and the small space probe is slingshot around the inner planets. See: Gravity assist

    I think a fun twist would be the earth destroying black hole provides the only way to achieve the interstellar space travel. The black hole would be moving very fast relative to the earth. To get to their new homes they can do a gravity assist off of the incoming black hole. But because of the changing geometry each ship will be shot off in different directions. Many will fail by either going to close to the event horizon, slamming into some asteroid or something before they can slow down. There are lost of fun possibilities.


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  4. #3 Re: Need help with lyrical writing about black holes! 
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    Quote Originally Posted by c186282
    This sounds like fun.
    Thank you for your response! I'll be crediting The Science Forum and anyone by name or alias for their time to offer insight and suggestions in the albums booklet.

    Follow up questions:

    1. Would any affect on the planets be visible to the naked eye as the large black hole moved closer? If not, what could we expect to see from an observatory? The more descriptive the better.

    2. What could these tidal forces on an earth like planet cause? Earthquakes? Tidal waves?

    3. At what point would these interstellar ships have to make an attempt to leave before it was too late?

    Quote Originally Posted by c186282
    I think a fun twist would be the earth destroying black hole provides the only way to achieve the interstellar space travel. The black hole would be moving very fast relative to the earth. To get to their new homes they can do a gravity assist off of the incoming black hole. But because of the changing geometry each ship will be shot off in different directions. Many will fail by either going to close to the event horizon, slamming into some asteroid or something before they can slow down. There are lost of fun possibilities.
    Perfect! "Gravity assist" is exactly what I was looking for! I was clueless on how to theoretically get these ships out of the solar system.

    The song we had planned to be the 2nd track was written in 3/4 timing and originally I had the idea of calling the song "Starship 34" and basing the lyrics around what interstellar travel might be like aboard one of these interstellar ships after the great escape, but now you've provided me the beautiful idea of it being the ONE ship that actually makes it using gravity assist off the black hole while being able to uniquely describe the individual unfortunate fate of the other 33! That just brings it to a whole new level of exciting. THANK YOU!

    Anymore ideas or suggestions would greatly be appreciated, but already you've aided me so much in writing process.
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  5. #4 Re: Need help with lyrical writing about black holes! 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Waystheskyburns
    1. Would any affect on the planets be visible to the naked eye as the large black hole moved closer? If not, what could we expect to see from an observatory? The more descriptive the better.
    It would likely appear as a distortion against the background stars.

    You might have some fun over at this page if you're interested: http://apod.nasa.gov/htmltest/rjn_bht.html


    Quote Originally Posted by Waystheskyburns
    2. What could these tidal forces on an earth like planet cause? Earthquakes? Tidal waves?
    Probably yes to both. If they were strong enough, it could also cause the planet to deform and bulge and result in volcanic activity. As an example of what tidal effects can do to celestial body, check out Io, the innermost moon of Jupiter.

    If the tidal effects were really really strong (like we were inside the event horizon) then the earth could rip apart. This would happen because the gravity on the side of the earth closer to the BH would be stronger than the gravity on the side of the earth farther away from the BH, and we would be pulled and stretched like a strand of spaghetti.


    Quote Originally Posted by Waystheskyburns
    3. At what point would these interstellar ships have to make an attempt to leave before it was too late?
    It depends on the size of the BH. You can calculate the event horizon based on the other characteristics of the hole. You simply cannot pass the event horizon. It's the point of no return.

    You should check out Kip Thorne's book, "Blackholes and Time Warps." He's a physicist at CalTech, and wrote this book a few years back (so some of it is no longer current), but he wrote it in a way which is accessible even to people with no formal training (like me ).
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