Black holes have a well-deserved reputation for being cosmic destroyers, ripping apart anything that comes into contact with their intense gravitational forces. But a radical new theory says advanced intelligent life could live on planets inside black holes.
Professor Vyacheslav Dokuchaev of Moscow's Russian Academy of Sciences came up with this strange idea, which builds on the earlier idea that photon particles could theoretically maintain stable orbits inside black holes. He's made the rather huge leap to saying that entire planets could possible also attain stable orbit around the singularity, which is the central part of the black hole where all the laws of physics begin to break down.
Dokuchaev suggests that these planets would not have conventional orbits around the singularity, but rather orbit around it in a complex spiral pattern. The singularity and other trapped photons would provide the planet with light and warmth, potentially allowing life to evolve. Oh yes, Dokuchaev is going all-in with this idea:
"This planet might even support a complex chemistry rich enough to allow life to evolve. Advanced civilizations may live safely inside the black hole without being visible from the outside."
Indeed, if such planets do exist, there's absolutely no way we could ever know. They would be inside the event horizon of the black hole, meaning you would have to travel faster than light to escape, which remains completely impossible under our current understanding of physics.
That's hardly the only problem with the idea - Dokuchaev himself admits gravity would still exert massive tidal forces, and trapped photons would bring with them massive energy densities. An advanced civilization might be able to deal with these issues, but it's unclear whether such a species could ever evolve under such conditions. There's also the tiny problem of causality itself breaking down, as the singularity itself represents a point where the laws of physics break down.
Dr. David Floyd of the Australian Astronomical Observatory says there are some serious problems with the theory, although he does admit it's an intriguing concept:
"At this point - and perhaps forever - we're restricted to making untestable assertion. As far as we know, matter would go into free fall, that is, it would all fall into this tiny infinitesimal point at the centre which forms the singularity. It wouldn't take much to produce drag which would slow down the orbits described in Dokuchaev paper, causing them to collapse onto the singularity.
"Given the number of black holes in the universe - lots - one might infer that life is inevitable inside at least one of them if there really are stable orbits. Maybe there are entire universes inside black holes."
This is one of those seriously strange ideas that we're not likely to learn the truth about anytime soon, but at least one thing is certain: I have never heard of anything that more ridiculously screams out to be made into a Doctor Who story.