Articles, Blog

The Black Hole Bomb and Black Hole Civilizations

October 18, 2019


Black holes are the largest collections of pure violent energy in the universe. If you come too close, they’ll devour you and add your energy to their collection. And so, the energy is lost to us forever. Or is it? It turns out there’s a universe cheat code. A way of powering civilizations until the very death of everything, or of constructing the largest bomb in the universe. But how? Didn’t we learn that all energy is trapped forever in black holes, even light? This is true. Everything you think you know about the weirdest thing in the universe is about to get weirder, for one simple reason: Black holes are spinning. When really really massive stars die, their cores collapse under their own gravity into black holes. This means something very big becomes very, very tiny. Like the tiniest anything can be in this universe. But stars are rotating and a fundamental property of our universe is that things that are spinning don’t want to stop spinning. We call this: angular momentum. And this angular momentum can’t go away. A big thing that spins and becomes smaller, spins faster. So, as the core of a star collapses, its momentum makes it spin faster and faster and faster, until it collapses into a black hole . And the black hole keeps on spinning, inconceivably fast. Some of them spin millions of times a second. Just like non spinning black holes, …spinning black holes have an event horizon and a singularity at their core, where all of their mass is concentrated. The singularity is usually described as a single infinitely small point with no surface area. But points can’t rotate, so a rotating singularity can’t be a point. Instead, it’s a RINGularity. A ringularity is a ring with a thickness of zero and no surface, spinning extremely fast, containing all the mass of the black hole. The black hole is spinning so fast, that it morphs space and time itself. It literally drags space with it, such is its power. This creates a new and super weird region of space-time: the Ergosphere, which envelops the black hole. If space and time are completely broken inside the event horizon, then they’re only half broken inside the ergosphere. Inside the ergosphere, nothing makes sense. It’s possible to enter it and then leave it again, but it’s probably not a great experience. You can imagine it like this: Falling into a static black hole is like sliding down a hole. Being inside the ergosphere of a spinning black hole is like spiraling down a deadly drain. The black hole transfers its own kinetic energy in the form of rotation, to everything that enters the ergosphere. The ringularity makes you dance whether you want to or not. You need to move faster than the speed of light just to stand still here, which is impossible. But here’s our cheat code: We can steal this energy, and there’s a lot of energy to steal. Take the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way. We could steal as much energy from it as every single star in the Milky Way emits in a billion years combined. The easiest way to steal this energy is, oddly enough, to drop something into the black hole. We’ve seen that the ringularity forces energy on us when we enter the ergosphere, …which is a lot like being in a whirlpool, with space-time rushing around and around. If you’re clever you can use the water to your advantage, and swim faster than before. In practice, this means sending a rocket into the ergosphere, and making a trade with the black hole: We give it some mass-energy, and it gives us some of its rotational energy. But it’s not a fair trade, we get the better deal. Normally, if you fire a rocket, you exchange chemical energy for kinetic energy. This is like pushing yourself forward in a swimming pool. But if you fire a rocket inside the ergosphere, it’s like pushing yourself forward in a wave pool. The rotational energy of the waves gives you a much stronger boost than you could get just by pushing yourself. The boost from the rotation of the back hole is so big, that you leave the ergosphere with much more energy than you entered it. The black hole gives a tiny amount of its rotational energy to you, and slows down a little. Obviously, this requires a lot of food. Fortunately, black holes aren’t picky eaters. An advanced future civilization would probably harvest asteroids to drop them into the black hole when they needed an energy boost. But there’s an even better way to get energy from a black hole, and oddly enough, it builds the biggest bomb any living thing could ever hope to build: We only need two things to build a black hole bomb: a fast-spinning black hole, and a big mirror. The mirror has to completely envelop the black hole, …which is similar to a Dyson Sphere, a mega structure that harvests the energy of an entire star. Although, our mirror would be easier to build. Mirrors are simpler, and black holes are much, much more compact than stars. If we made the mirror 10 centimeters thick, the metal of a big asteroid would probably be enough material for a black hole with the mass of our Sun. Once our mirror is in place, we only need to open a window, and shoot electromagnetic waves at the black hole. You can imagine what happens next, by imagining tossing a ball at a wall, and it coming back faster than a bullet. The waves hit the black hole at light speed. A small proportion of the waves falls past the event horizon to disappear forever. But a much larger amount sloshes through the ergosphere, …where the black hole forces some of its rotational energy on them, and amplifies them. They now begin superradiant scattering, which are fancy science words meaning: “Bouncing around between mirror and black hole and getting stronger.” Every time they go around, they are getting exponentially stronger. By opening some windows in the mirror, we can extract the energy from the waves as fast as they grow. Which we could use, in theory, to create what would be for all practical purposes, an endless source of energy for trillions of years. Or, we could blow it up. If the waves are not released, they will continue to get stronger and stronger, …and take more and more energy from the black hole, until the mirror shatters. A supermassive black hole would release as much energy as a supernova, …making the bomb the largest explosion any living being could ever create. The beauty of the black hole bomb, the Penrose process, and the super radiant scattering, is that they are not science-fiction. In the far far future, this might be the only way to survive in our dying universe. After all the red dwarfs have cooled down, and all the white dwarfs transformed into black dwarfs, the universe will turn dark forever. Rotating black holes might be the only sources of energy in the entire universe that life could harvest. If so, the last living being in existence might one day end its life around a black hole. Which is equally chilling and uplifting. It turns out that even without any light, there are places we can go. Black holes are as interesting as they are mysterious, but there’s actually a surprising amount we do know. Using math we can calculate things and come up with theories about how we die if we fall into them. If you’re the sort of person who gets excited about maths and calculating these things for yourself, …our friends at Brilliant have put together a fantastic black hole quiz to help you get your head around them. Brilliant is a problem-solving website that teaches you to think like a scientist, by guiding you through the problems. They take concepts like these, break them up into bite-sized pieces, present clear thinking in each part, and then build back up to an interesting conclusion. If you visit Brilliant.org/nutshell or click the link in the description, you can sign up for free and learn all kinds of cool stuff. And as a bonus for Kurzgesagt viewers, the first 688 people will also get 20% off their annual membership. If you want to truly learn about black holes and support Kurzgesagt, this is one of the best ways to do it.

100 Comments

  • Reply Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell February 8, 2019 at 1:54 pm

    There's brand new stuff in the Kurzgesagt Merch Shop. Check it out here: shop.kurzgesagt.org

  • Reply Torpedex October 14, 2019 at 3:24 pm

    cant we make our own star by the time we can make a black hole bomb

  • Reply ShyGuy793 October 14, 2019 at 4:10 pm

    So you're basically saying we can have the traveller from destiny in real life?

  • Reply moon_rx October 14, 2019 at 4:36 pm

    Anyone watching this afther the black hole fortnite event????

  • Reply Dean Gerrits October 14, 2019 at 4:58 pm

    Fortnite be like

  • Reply Hi Lol October 14, 2019 at 5:14 pm

    Black holes exist:
    Humans: do you want to explode

  • Reply GeGe October 14, 2019 at 5:26 pm

    Ahh so this is what Fortnite did

  • Reply BenjaminProKiller October 14, 2019 at 5:42 pm

    Who is here from Fortnite to find out the complain of the end of Fortnite?

  • Reply X D October 14, 2019 at 6:53 pm

    fortnite joined the chat

  • Reply Amare Odiea October 14, 2019 at 7:19 pm

    What if you, wanted to eat a space ship, but it said, “Lander 1, prepare to detach, on my mark, 3 2 1.”

  • Reply Sage October 14, 2019 at 7:25 pm

    Btoom!’s mini black hole grenades are cool

  • Reply SayaTheJin October 14, 2019 at 7:52 pm

    Let's just throw our atomic waste into the sun or a Black hole lmao

  • Reply hirothino ryze October 14, 2019 at 7:59 pm

    A black hole civilization will appear in Fortnite – season 11

  • Reply LT .Kermit October 14, 2019 at 8:14 pm

    Fortnite rn

  • Reply Don Sonny October 14, 2019 at 8:41 pm

    What a cold , hopeless and pointless existence for those ignorant of God and reality of the place we live in

  • Reply Hunter Parduski October 14, 2019 at 9:27 pm

    This looks familiar …… I don’t know where tho …..

  • Reply 1 23 October 14, 2019 at 10:30 pm

    Black holes should've patented themselves

    FORTNITE

  • Reply Kryizyx October 14, 2019 at 11:55 pm

    why fortnite copy this

  • Reply Johnny Toast October 15, 2019 at 12:08 am

    Cool sci-fi story

  • Reply Jesus October 15, 2019 at 12:57 am

    Bruh is a time traveler helping us

  • Reply Legends of speed October 15, 2019 at 1:12 am

    Prepare for all of the fortnite kids coming in talking about a blackhole

  • Reply iiJason124 October 15, 2019 at 1:16 am

    Black holes: have energy
    The U.S: whippity wine that black hole is mine

  • Reply Alejandro Bufalini October 15, 2019 at 2:01 am

    Fortnite

  • Reply JustFive5 October 15, 2019 at 2:29 am

    Let’s build a bomb from the fortnite blackhole

  • Reply benletch October 15, 2019 at 2:51 am

    Hey look! It is a Fortnite video!!!

  • Reply KING FERNANDEZ October 15, 2019 at 3:11 am

    Fortnite….

  • Reply godboi Φ October 15, 2019 at 3:17 am

    So is this a stw exclusive ltm or..

  • Reply taco10lex October 15, 2019 at 4:30 am

    fortnite be like:

  • Reply Hay Hay October 15, 2019 at 4:41 am

    don’t forget about spaghettification

  • Reply Beastlybee October 15, 2019 at 6:03 am

    “The energy is lost to us forever- or is it?”

    Me-a sad epic gamer: THERE IS HOPE?

  • Reply Eddy Munoz October 15, 2019 at 7:58 am

    Fortnite

  • Reply Hugo October 15, 2019 at 8:45 am

    6:48 wouldn't this be super radioactive

  • Reply LakLustSeaUrchins October 15, 2019 at 12:57 pm

    Fortnite

  • Reply Kill_Reality October 15, 2019 at 5:16 pm

    The black hole bomb is impossible… because the black hole will eat it

  • Reply Hermes Kurama October 15, 2019 at 5:40 pm

    Black hole bomb, won’t you come, and wash away the rain…

  • Reply Player One October 15, 2019 at 7:29 pm

    “An endless source of energy for trillions of years”

    “Or we could blow it up”
    I love America

  • Reply Queen Sassy October 15, 2019 at 8:17 pm

    everyone came here from the fortnite event

  • Reply Ethan Chen October 15, 2019 at 9:10 pm

    Hi

  • Reply jojo ref October 15, 2019 at 10:26 pm

    I already know this tusk act 4

  • Reply Baha abutaleb October 15, 2019 at 11:47 pm

    @6:43 Halo Array 🙂

  • Reply Roma Stelmach October 16, 2019 at 1:33 am

    What if you put this bomb into a black hole?

  • Reply Reyli From the Tower Rivers October 16, 2019 at 2:07 am

    Hey look its Pinky and the Brain!

  • Reply Comrade SKYSVR October 16, 2019 at 4:13 am

    So at some point we will be dropping asteroids to boost forward?
    Interesting

  • Reply Ryan Stinson October 16, 2019 at 5:40 am

    I hate you love Ryan.

  • Reply badreality2 October 16, 2019 at 5:52 am

    Pinky: "What will we do tonight, Brain?"
    Brain: "The same thing we do every night, Pinky. TRY TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD!"

  • Reply Guy Who Knows Everything October 16, 2019 at 6:05 am

    Haha fortnite black hole funny haha im so original haha fortnite haha black hole haha

  • Reply V R October 16, 2019 at 5:42 pm

    RIP to all the birds dying in kurzgesagt videos

  • Reply RamouS October 16, 2019 at 5:42 pm

    How to make a Kurzgesagt video :

    Step 1. Make people paranoid about death and the end of the universe

    Step 2. Add some birds

    Step 3. Add some knowledge

  • Reply Astr0s October 16, 2019 at 7:55 pm

    When I clicked on this video, I was not expecting a black hole pacman.

  • Reply Артём Зайчик October 16, 2019 at 8:13 pm

    that mirror would be still too hard to build. At least the gravity is waaaay too strong

  • Reply Wolvigamer Velez October 16, 2019 at 9:08 pm

    You tube in 4 billion years from now: making a black hole bomb smash like

  • Reply Jesse King October 16, 2019 at 9:24 pm

    While the black hole bomb has a theoretically absurd yield in a perfect physical simulation, its practical yield would be limited to something quite tiny by the structure of your mirror. Basically the mirror's efficiency (or lack thereof – nothing is 100% efficient), means that a small proportion of the EM wave's energy will be absorbed by the mirror with each bounce, becoming heat energy in the mirror.
    In practice your mirror will simply melt, or perhaps even explosively vaporize if the rate of transfer is sufficiently fast – but this will happen LONG before you've extracted a meaningful amount of energy from the black hole itself, once the mirror loses structural integrity, the process stops. Ultimately you can't really extract more energy from the black hole bomb this way than it takes to destroy the mirror itself, which isn't much at all.
    It's like making a bomb using a rigid canister containing slow burning black powder – the explosive force of the bomb really doesn't get any better than the rupture strength of the canister, regardless of how much black powder you put in it.
    On the other hand, if you are extracting usable energy from the black hole, you can keep that up as long as you keep your mirrors cool enough to keep them from losing integrity, so it does still work fine as a power source – but not a bomb.

  • Reply Leo5191 WR October 16, 2019 at 11:26 pm

    To live longer make super-batteries and store a bunch of extra energy

  • Reply Marcus Miller October 17, 2019 at 12:30 am

    Ha Pinky and the Brain

  • Reply Taufieq Adi Negara October 17, 2019 at 12:45 am

    7:10 F.L.E.I.J.A.

  • Reply MIRACLE HIP October 17, 2019 at 1:00 am

    Fortnite black hole: allow me to introduce myself.

  • Reply Mike October 17, 2019 at 1:48 am

    I think I saw Pinky & The Brain doing the same thing they do every night… but with black hole bombs! Really upping their game a bit.

  • Reply cian ryan October 17, 2019 at 3:46 am

    my favorite part was the starcraft 2 nexus

  • Reply Rayne Rebeiro October 17, 2019 at 4:33 am

    Ah yes the golden rectangle
    AHHH YES THE GOLDEN RECTANGLE
    OHHH YES THE GOLDEN RECTANGLE

  • Reply Hilario Zuñiga October 17, 2019 at 5:46 am

    Starcraft reference 0:20 race protoss

  • Reply BATTLETEETH October 17, 2019 at 6:16 am

    Like an ice skater tucking in her arms she spins faster.

  • Reply That Guy October 17, 2019 at 6:40 am

    Imagine humans living long enough to live around the last black hole in exsistance at the end of time… Then the last dude in existance decided he wanted to go out with a bang and just blow it up. Even though he would instantly just disappear, that last person would technically also be the one to destroy the universe and all life in it.

  • Reply JangCkel Davalos Guzman October 17, 2019 at 7:21 am

    i love how easy it sounds but reality human body can't handle it, the most highest speed we could handle is bearly sound speed and it can kill us now light speed will desintegrate us, you practly enter a black hole you will be dead for the masive speed presure on your body, in theory it would be practical in practice na ah… but has a energy source maibe but… deadlier.

  • Reply Eddiemore69 October 17, 2019 at 9:03 am

    Your Blackhole animation reminds me of dormammu

  • Reply Jesper Keismar 8c October 17, 2019 at 9:29 am

    00:18 Protos from starcraft really?

  • Reply Mario Sebastian October 17, 2019 at 9:41 am

    sshhh don't say it out loud, we dont want the black holes to know

  • Reply Freedeoxide October 17, 2019 at 1:11 pm

    If we send live streaming camera in black hole?

  • Reply Kameari Kill Screen October 17, 2019 at 1:20 pm

    Black hole Bomb. Won't you come? And kurzgesagt the rain?

  • Reply eternity cosplay October 17, 2019 at 3:08 pm

    Far far futur . He ment 100000000000000000 years maybe + 10^900 ….

  • Reply Kyle Finn October 17, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    But wouldn’t the energy not be released as much, because of the time dialation of the black hole?

  • Reply FortCraft-Alex De Borja October 17, 2019 at 7:14 pm

    This is a weird question but why do you always use birds as humans I guess

  • Reply PETER ZARI October 17, 2019 at 8:35 pm

    1:06 Enemy spotted

  • Reply Jararu October 17, 2019 at 8:51 pm

    Haha that StarCraft reference 🙂

  • Reply Willems Pierre October 17, 2019 at 9:12 pm

    …………….. what?

  • Reply Daniel faseyi October 17, 2019 at 9:21 pm

    so basically… RASENGAN

  • Reply dRopDeadDante October 17, 2019 at 10:05 pm

    The metal of a bigass droid

  • Reply That one guy October 17, 2019 at 10:18 pm

    did someone say
    VORTEX GRENADES

  • Reply Purple Monster October 17, 2019 at 10:46 pm

    Who can just really feel and visualize the future of having a black hole bomb

  • Reply MyNameStartsWithTriangles October 18, 2019 at 12:39 am

    youre high

  • Reply Savagetypeship4 jade October 18, 2019 at 2:33 am

    Black holes don't exist. It's all fantasy ? a ball can not turn into a hole slash vacuum ? keep your head in a rabbit hole while they step on your back LMAO

  • Reply xenomorph 1236 October 18, 2019 at 2:54 am

    Ok this either how they made the halo ring or how the light was made from destiny

  • Reply noneya biznis October 18, 2019 at 3:22 am

    A “black hole” is neither black, or a hole. It is just a property of a star that no longer has enough outward force to counteract gravity, and that gravity is great enough to bend space inward. “Singularities” do not exist.

  • Reply Exotixz October 18, 2019 at 3:47 am

    If there aren't any stars, we can just use the resources gained from unlimited energy to create our own artificial suns.

  • Reply Dan Lake October 18, 2019 at 6:17 am

    Aren't all black holes spinning?

  • Reply Hostage Murderer October 18, 2019 at 6:52 am

    I understand that black holes kind of break every established law of space and time but how can you get infinite energy? I thought that violates the law of conservation of energy.

  • Reply Commenter Person October 18, 2019 at 7:04 am

    7:50 Please hold your horses.
    Some of use can't even survive at home, talkless of surviving in Antarctica, not to mention on ISS.
    Now you are talking surviving the end of the universe?

  • Reply Just in with Justin October 18, 2019 at 9:59 am

    I loved the Protoss and the "Show me the 'money' " from Starcraft 🙂

  • Reply Rid Z October 18, 2019 at 10:10 am

    Holy Shit, that introduction with the protoss base. 0:15

    MY LIFE FOR AIUR!!!

  • Reply Sologuy 95 October 18, 2019 at 10:45 am

    Flat-Earthers/overly ignorant people:
    What kind of a fool do you take me for? "Planets" spin? "Galaxies" spin? "BLACK HOLES" SPIN? "THE UNIVERSE" SPINS!!! ARE THERE ANY OTHER SPINNING OBJECTS I SHOULD KNOW OF?

  • Reply Jean-Marc Knight October 18, 2019 at 12:02 pm

    I build and sell mirrors, I can take your rorder !

  • Reply Cross Van Dust October 18, 2019 at 1:40 pm

    1:06 But out of context

  • Reply Daniel Burgos October 18, 2019 at 1:55 pm

    No birds are injured in these videos.

  • Reply Dirpy Dragon October 18, 2019 at 2:04 pm

    Every body gangsta till Donald trump threatens the sun with a black hole bomb

  • Reply Fantasy Roleplay October 18, 2019 at 2:16 pm

    Make a kurtzegast universe app or something please

  • Reply Jack Hedaya October 18, 2019 at 2:30 pm

    Why does a black hole spin faster than a star if Angular Momentum is based on mass and a black hole just has a lower volume?

  • Reply Dominador Ramos October 18, 2019 at 2:52 pm

    In my understanding, a black hole is a point. How does a point spin?

  • Reply Joe Milosch October 18, 2019 at 3:10 pm

    How about a Texas Cage Death Match between a Black Hole and Anti-matter?

  • Reply Asukara Asukārā October 18, 2019 at 3:40 pm

    Ah yess inter-star Chernobyl

  • Reply Ivan Nierez October 18, 2019 at 3:46 pm

    6:42 So this could be a death star which you can't blow up because I would cause a mass catastrophe. While also being a vast source of energy for the empire. Nice…

  • Reply Rasputin October 18, 2019 at 6:20 pm

    Fortnite hole be like

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