Black holes for beginners part III

So what happens when I fall in?

NOTE: If you skipped straight to this section, read the previous two unless you know exactly what a black hole is.

You would find yourself falling inwards at incredible speeds. You would not notice yourself passing the event horizon. You would find yourself being stretched into a long peice of spaghetti (in fact, you'd probably just be ripped apart) by tidal forces. I won't explain what they are now, but they lead to the coolest word in physics – spaghettification. Eventually, you will be crushed into the centre of the black hole by the immense gravitational forces and end up being unable to distinguish between what was once you and everything else.

Someone else would see things happening very differently. Gravity slows time down. The stronger the gravity, the slower time goes. You don't notice time going slower because it's going slowly for you as well, but an astronaut would see everyone on Earth moving slower than they should be. The difference is tiny, but it does happen.

Imagine you're watching someone fall towards a black hole. You can see a watch they are wearing (assume the watch keeps time perfectly). As they fall towards the black hole, the watch would start to tick slower and slower. When the person reaches the event horizon, it stops altogether. This is why it is called the event horizon – it is the place where events stop.

But if time is stopped, how can they fall into the black hole?

Let's get this straight – position in a black hole is very weird. The gravity is so intense that time and space effectively swap round. Saying were it goes or where it is is very difficult – all I can tell you is that it ends up at the centre.


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