Smallest black hole on record suffers from Napoleon complex

I do so love the journalistic imperative to sensationalize news. Or, excuse me, The News.

It started with the weather, I think. In years gone by, there was an event some time between Halloween and New Years known as ‘the first snow of the season’ which has, in recent times become ‘Blizard 200x’. After dabbling with sports, politics, and celebrity news over the years, sensationalism has of late returned to journalism with a vengeance. And nothing looks more sensational than sensationalize science. Personally, I blame the Discovery Channel, but balance any urge to wag a finger with the fact that people huddling around water coolers are at least talking about pseudo-science. At least after sports and celebrity news run dry. Chin up, science — you’re still beating politics as a casual conversation topic.

Oh, sorry. I distracted myself.

Back on topic, it seems NASA came across what they’re calling the smallest black hole on record which, according to Reuters-via-Yahoo, is the size of a large city (I’m assuming it’s at least a Phoenix or an Atlanta across) with a mass less than 4 times that of the sun.

Pay special note the sensationalism:

“This black hole is really pushing the limits. For many years astronomers have wanted to know the smallest possible size of a black hole, and this little guy is a big step toward answering that question,” Nikolai Shaposhnikov of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, said in a statement.

It would likely be stronger than bigger black holes found at the centers of galaxies. Shaposhnikov said if someone ventured too close to J1650, its gravity would “stretch your body into a strand of spaghetti.”

They even include an artist’s impression of what the total absence of light might look like, complete with pulsing light effects and swirling, brightly colored… cool-looking outer space stuff, whatever it is.

The geek appeal of this story — namely, that a new low-end threshhold  required by a star to collapse in on itself and form a black hole may have been found, or perhaps just the first such object degraded by Hawking radiation to such diminuitve mass– has apparently been deemed as either too cerebral (translation: boring), irrelevent (translation: also boring) or generally boring to qualify as ‘news’. But a black hole overcoming the odds and fighting against destiny to realize its potential as a black hole instead of an instantly forgetable neutron star? Now that’s news.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: