Re: That Black-Hole Space-time curvature thing

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Sun, 14 Sep 1997 02:07:18 -0500

Kennita Watson wrote:
> A big hug to John K. Clark (assuming he wants one)!
> I spent all these years thinking that people who fell into a black
> hole would be torn apart, when actually they would be crushed together!
> This explanation is great!
> Kennita (still dazzled by the light bulb going on over her head :-) )

Um, no. Actually, you would be simultaneously crushed and torn about. As you
got close to the singularity, assuming you headed in feet first, the atoms in
your feet would be torn away and crushed into an infinitely dense point. Then
the atoms in your knees. And so on. You get torn apart from the feet up, but
the loose parts get compacted again.

Probably before that, your head and feet would get ripped off, heading in on
their own time. Before you start disintegrating, that is. You're kind of
being squeezed from one direction and torn apart from the other. Drop a bit
of liquid into a black hole and it assumes an egg shape that rapidly becomes
very long and thin, until it finally becomes a cone of atoms and quarks
funneling into a point.

I also seem to recall that the tidal forces wouldn't become strong enough
until the last 4 seconds or so... so enjoy the view.

Got it?

--       Eliezer S. Yudkowsky

Disclaimer:  Unless otherwise specified, I'm not telling you
everything I think I know.