I have a whine with the way scientists have failed to explain the journalistic 6 W’s and the H (Who, What, Where, When, Why and Wowser Howzer) of black holes.
I’ve streamed endless black hole specials, I’ve seen black hole puppet shows and participated in humiliating games of black hole Zoom charades, all supposedly geared to helping the non-scientist (moi) grasp the ins and outs of black holes.
To start with, I have always considered the scientific definition of a black hole — a dead star that has collapsed in on itself — as judgmental and very hurtful to the dead star community. I mean, when you think about it, what else is a dead star supposed to do? The hokey pokey?
And I’ve always suspected that definition to be bogus, because if you substitute the words “a snoring drunk uncle,” for a dead star, and tack on “in the upstairs guest bedroom,” only then do you understand the true meaning of “Holy Moley.”
Ever since I first heard about a BH ( uh, Black Hole) I’ve tried to conjure a mental image of what this collapsed star might look like out there in the void to the normal astronaut (possibly sub-normal) shooting by in a space craft.
I pictured something like a tennis ball floating out there in the void. But it was too small for my illustrative purposes, because a mean dog who was out voiding all over the lawn grabbed it in its jaws and ran away.
I imagined a larger sphere, this time a kick ball, one of those bouncy, hollow things, hopefully too big for a dog to get his jaws around, but not big enough to do anything but be kicked.
Then it wasn’t such a reach to imagine some snotty little kid coming along and kicking the crap out of my ball, knocking it into the next yard where the attitudinal dog previously mentioned was still chewing on my tennis ball.
A lively imagination will do that to you or for you, compared to the clogged gears of scientists who are so smart and dull that they could never imagine a dog, let alone figure out what a kick ball has to do with a black hole.
Where were we? Yes, the little brat kicked the kick ball and it nearly hit the dog, who easily chewed a big bite out of it. The next time the kid kicked it, the bounce was forever gone. It flopped around like a…well…like a ball that had collapsed in on itself.
Okay! I was onto something. I could now picture in my imagination the sub-normal astronaut taking cell phone movies of a black hole way out there.
But as serious scientists will tell you, he better not get too close because the tremendous suck inside the kick ball will snork him and his subnormal space ship inside. It will also inhale the dog and the precocious little monster kid next door. It will be so dark inside the ball that nothing, especially the dog’s halitosis can escape.
At this point I’m saying to myself, yes, I can see that. Finally, it’s beginning to make sense.
But here’s where the lonesome men of science lose me. Not once in all the programming I have viewed about black holes has anyone ever gone around to the back side of the collapsed kick ball. Because, if the black hole sucks that hard, why not just go around to the back and crack a window? Get a little draft going. Cool things down. (Not bad for someone without a PhD eh?)
I write them letters about this but I never get a reply. I don’t think they take me seriously. So I write again and explain again in very polite and easy to read crayon. But so far it’s like talking to a drunk uncle.
©Patrick A. McGuire and A Hint of Light 2013-2021, all rights reserved.
 Say moo-WAH. But real fast. Example: you’re in a French restaurant and the garcon comes by with a platter and asks “Who ordered the French toast?” Your hand shoots up and you shout “moo-WAH.” But real fast. They’ll think you’re French. Guaranteed.
 From “The lonesome men of science” by the wonderful singer-songwriter John Prine, taken too soon by that bastard Covid shit.