The blurry orange image of the monster black hole the size of our solar system at the center of massive elliptical galaxy M87 captured by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) on April 10, 2019, was one of the most extraordinary achievements in modern science. The image is an epic example of the human species ability to imagine the existence of an object that not long ago, scientists of the stature of an Einstein, believed “did not exist in the real world,” nor that a fathomless dark creation existed at the very real, violent center of our home galaxy.
Today’s “Insomnia File” episode offers two stories of cosmic insight. The first is about ”An Accident More Complex than the Universe” from former astrophysicist and hard science-fiction author Alastair Reynolds, who’s epiphany is found in his novel , Blue Remembered Earth — first of a trilogy which follows humanity’s development over many centuries and Paul Davies, The Demon in the Machine.
Several mind-boggling conjectures about the existence of advanced alien civilizations have been made by astrophysicists who have found that for the last 7 billion years or so something is pushing the galaxies, adding energy to them. Something they are calling “dark energy,” a force that is real, but so far eludes detection. One of the most speculative ideas for the mechanism of an accelerating cosmic expansion is called “quintessence”, a relative of the Higgs field that permeates the cosmos.
In the art world, there’s a term called pentimento, meaning an alteration, an overlay on a painting, hiding evidence of traces of a previous work. In a similar vein, British physicist and former Stephen Hawking colleague, Sir Roger Penrose and his team, argue is that extinct universes exist that were filled with ghost black holes that are hidden, embedded in the Cosmic Microwave Background map.
“According to British physicist, Sir Roger Penrose’s conformal cyclic cosmology, the universe goes through an infinite series of “aeons,” each of which starts with a phase resembling a big bang, then forming galactic structures as usual, then cooling down as stars die. In the end the only thing that’s left are evaporating black holes and thinly dispersed radiation.”