Why it is that of all the billions and billions of strange objects in the Cosmos — novas, quasars, pulsars, black holes — you are beyond doubt the strangest? -Walker Percy
When you watch someone fall into a black hole, what you actually see is pretty surprising. You see, a black hole’s gravity distorts the space around it, and it does so without providing any light of its own, giving you a unique perspective on the Universe.
Well, if you watch someone else fall in, you’d see them approach the black hole normally, and then the bizarreness starts. As they go deeper and deeper into the gravitational field of the black hole, a few super bizarre things all start to happen simultaneously.
- The light coming from the person gets redshifted; they’ll start to take on a redder hue and then, eventually, will require infrared, microwave, and then radio “vision” to see.
- The speed at which they appear to fall in will get asymptotically slow; they will appear to fall in towards the event horizon at a slower and slower speed, never quite reaching it.
- The amount of light coming from them gets less and less. In addition to getting redder, they also will appear dimmer, even if they emit their own source of light!
But if you think that’s bizarre, here’s where it gets really weird: the person falling in notices no difference in how time passes or how light appears to them. They would continue to fall in to the black hole and cross the event horizon as though nothing happened.
What would you see if you fell into this black hole? Luckily, Andrew Hamilton and his group at Colorado have created a video (and an accurate video at that) to illustrate this:
- Tearing your extremities (head, arms, legs) from your torso,
- tearing the individual muscles, tendons, ligaments, etc., apart from your body,
- tearing individual cells apart from one another,
- tearing the organelles inside each cell apart, destroying cells themselves,
- tearing the individual molecules apart into atoms,
- tearing your atoms apart into nuclei and electrons, and finally
- tearing the individual nuclei apart into, eventually, quarks and gluons.
Fun stuff, yes? Perhaps someday, “death by black hole” will be commonplace, although it will take an infinite amount of time for you to see someone else experience it!