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EWU professor explains black hole picture’s significance

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EWU professor explains black hole picture’s significance

Washington State is in the process of passing a law regarding affirmative action.

Washington State is in the process of passing a law regarding affirmative action.

The Easterner

Washington State is in the process of passing a law regarding affirmative action.

The Easterner

The Easterner

Washington State is in the process of passing a law regarding affirmative action.

By Marco Vargas, Reporter

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Since its release on April 10, an exciting picture has been so nationally popular for citizens that one professor decided to teach some history.

EWU physics professor David Syphers held a presentation at the JFK auditorium and taught the audience some facts and history about black holes in a slideshow presentation to honor the first ever black hole picture that the Event Horizon Telescope released. Syphers said that the purpose of doing his presentation was public interest but also to have people understand what black holes are about.

“Sometimes there are things in the news that I think the general public is interested in but doesn’t have a real appreciation or understanding of what’s going on,” Syphers said. “I think you need some background understanding of why the picture is so cool. A lot of people saw the picture and they’re like, ‘Wow, I’ve seen better pictures than that in movies.’ So, why are (professors and I) so excited about this fuzzy picture of a black hole? We just wanted to give people a background and help them understand the discovery.”

One of the things shown in the slideshow presentation was a short animated movie of the Earth rotating a black hole where it looked like the planet was getting sucked in but then comes back out during the rotation.

“It’s a really cool effect,” Syphers said. “When the Earth is behind a black hole, the light from the Earth is trying to get out. And the light gets bent by the black hole.”

Syphers said that inertia and gravity combined could also be a reason for the Earth not getting completely sucked into a black hole.

“The inertia is why the Earth doesn’t get sucked into the sun,” Syphers said. “The sun is pulling on the Earth really hard. But the Earth doesn’t fall into the sun because it’s moving really fast.”

Another thing that Syphers favored was how the scientists used the telescope to zoom into the black hole and make the adjustments to capture the image.

“I never really thought about seeing a black hole because they’re so small and far away and dark with not much light,” Syphers said. “So the fact that they were able to zoom in enough to actually see that little bit of glow in the black hole, that’s what really blew my mind.”

Syphers said that he appreciated the audience when they showed interest and asked questions after the presentation concluded.

“They had a lot of good questions,” Syphers said. “It’s great when an audience asks questions like that because they’re engaged, they’re thinking about it, they’re curious about the subject. Every teacher or scientist wants to deal with people who are curious and engaged. There were a lot of really interesting questions. It gave me a chance to expand on some other interesting aspects of black holes.”

Syphers said that he is considering releasing the slideshow onto the internet for the public to search and examine. It is currently unknown when it will be available online.


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EWU professor explains black hole picture’s significance