Black hole firewalls

7.00pm to 8.30pm, Thursday 5 June

The Theatre

The Royal Institution of Great Britain GB United Kingdom W1S 4BS 21 Albemarle Street London

This event has already taken place

  • A growing black hole, called a quasar

    A growing black hole, called a quasar

    Credit: NASA


Standard £12

Concession £8

Associate £6

Free to Members, Faraday Members and Fellows

Event description

What would you experience if you jumped into a black hole? Conventionally, physicists have assumed that if the black hole is large enough, the gravitational forces won’t become extreme until you approach the singularity. There, the gravitational pull will be so much stronger on your feet than your head, that you will be ‘spaghettified’. Now, a new theory proposes that instead of spaghettification, you will encounter a massive wall of fire that will incinerate you on the spot, before you get close to turning into vermicelli.

Join science writer Jennifer Ouellette and physicist Sean Carroll for this special event, as they explore the black hole firewall paradox, the exotic physics that underlies the new theory and what the paradox tells us about how new scientific theories are proposed, tested and accepted.

About the speakers

Sean Carroll is a physicist at the California Institute of Technology, focussing on theoretical physics and cosmology, especially the origin and constituents of the universe. He has contributed to models of interactions between dark matter, dark energy, and ordinary matter; alternative theories of gravity; and violations of fundamental symmetries. He's won numerous awards and manages to find time to contribute to TV shows and write best-selling popular science books.

Jennifer Ouellette is a science writer currently based in Los Angeles, California. She is the author of four popular science books for the general public and her work has appeared in internationally-renowned journals. She has strong interests in the intersection of science and popular culture and communicating science, and is the founding director of the Science & Entertainment Exchange.

Watch Sean Carroll

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