The Black Hole Bomb and Black Hole Civilizations


Black holes are the largest collections of pure violent energy in the universe. If you come too close, they’ll devour you and add your energy to their collection. And so, the energy is lost to us forever. Or is it? It turns out there’s a universe cheat code. A way of powering civilizations until the very death of everything, or of constructing the largest bomb in the universe. But how? Didn’t we learn that all energy is trapped forever in black holes, even light? This is true. Everything you think you know about the weirdest thing in the universe is about to get weirder, for one simple reason: Black holes are spinning. When really really massive stars die, their cores collapse under their own gravity into black holes. This means something very big becomes very, very tiny. Like the tiniest anything can be in this universe. But stars are rotating and a fundamental property of our universe is that things that are spinning don’t want to stop spinning. We call this: angular momentum. And this angular momentum can’t go away. A big thing that spins and becomes smaller, spins faster. So, as the core of a star collapses, its momentum makes it spin faster and faster and faster, until it collapses into a black hole . And the black hole keeps on spinning, inconceivably fast. Some of them spin millions of times a second. Just like non spinning black holes, …spinning black holes have an event horizon and a singularity at their core, where all of their mass is concentrated. The singularity is usually described as a single infinitely small point with no surface area. But points can’t rotate, so a rotating singularity can’t be a point. Instead, it’s a RINGularity. A ringularity is a ring with a thickness of zero and no surface, spinning extremely fast, containing all the mass of the black hole. The black hole is spinning so fast, that it morphs space and time itself. It literally drags space with it, such is its power. This creates a new and super weird region of space-time: the Ergosphere, which envelops the black hole. If space and time are completely broken inside the event horizon, then they’re only half broken inside the ergosphere. Inside the ergosphere, nothing makes sense. It’s possible to enter it and then leave it again, but it’s probably not a great experience. You can imagine it like this: Falling into a static black hole is like sliding down a hole. Being inside the ergosphere of a spinning black hole is like spiraling down a deadly drain. The black hole transfers its own kinetic energy in the form of rotation, to everything that enters the ergosphere. The ringularity makes you dance whether you want to or not. You need to move faster than the speed of light just to stand still here, which is impossible. But here’s our cheat code: We can steal this energy, and there’s a lot of energy to steal. Take the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way. We could steal as much energy from it as every single star in the Milky Way emits in a billion years combined. The easiest way to steal this energy is, oddly enough, to drop something into the black hole. We’ve seen that the ringularity forces energy on us when we enter the ergosphere, …which is a lot like being in a whirlpool, with space-time rushing around and around. If you’re clever you can use the water to your advantage, and swim faster than before. In practice, this means sending a rocket into the ergosphere, and making a trade with the black hole: We give it some mass-energy, and it gives us some of its rotational energy. But it’s not a fair trade, we get the better deal. Normally, if you fire a rocket, you exchange chemical energy for kinetic energy. This is like pushing yourself forward in a swimming pool. But if you fire a rocket inside the ergosphere, it’s like pushing yourself forward in a wave pool. The rotational energy of the waves gives you a much stronger boost than you could get just by pushing yourself. The boost from the rotation of the back hole is so big, that you leave the ergosphere with much more energy than you entered it. The black hole gives a tiny amount of its rotational energy to you, and slows down a little. Obviously, this requires a lot of food. Fortunately, black holes aren’t picky eaters. An advanced future civilization would probably harvest asteroids to drop them into the black hole when they needed an energy boost. But there’s an even better way to get energy from a black hole, and oddly enough, it builds the biggest bomb any living thing could ever hope to build: We only need two things to build a black hole bomb: a fast-spinning black hole, and a big mirror. The mirror has to completely envelop the black hole, …which is similar to a Dyson Sphere, a mega structure that harvests the energy of an entire star. Although, our mirror would be easier to build. Mirrors are simpler, and black holes are much, much more compact than stars. If we made the mirror 10 centimeters thick, the metal of a big asteroid would probably be enough material for a black hole with the mass of our Sun. Once our mirror is in place, we only need to open a window, and shoot electromagnetic waves at the black hole. You can imagine what happens next, by imagining tossing a ball at a wall, and it coming back faster than a bullet. The waves hit the black hole at light speed. A small proportion of the waves falls past the event horizon to disappear forever. But a much larger amount sloshes through the ergosphere, …where the black hole forces some of its rotational energy on them, and amplifies them. They now begin superradiant scattering, which are fancy science words meaning: “Bouncing around between mirror and black hole and getting stronger.” Every time they go around, they are getting exponentially stronger. By opening some windows in the mirror, we can extract the energy from the waves as fast as they grow. Which we could use, in theory, to create what would be for all practical purposes, an endless source of energy for trillions of years. Or, we could blow it up. If the waves are not released, they will continue to get stronger and stronger, …and take more and more energy from the black hole, until the mirror shatters. A supermassive black hole would release as much energy as a supernova, …making the bomb the largest explosion any living being could ever create. The beauty of the black hole bomb, the Penrose process, and the super radiant scattering, is that they are not science-fiction. In the far far future, this might be the only way to survive in our dying universe. After all the red dwarfs have cooled down, and all the white dwarfs transformed into black dwarfs, the universe will turn dark forever. Rotating black holes might be the only sources of energy in the entire universe that life could harvest. If so, the last living being in existence might one day end its life around a black hole. Which is equally chilling and uplifting. It turns out that even without any light, there are places we can go. Black holes are as interesting as they are mysterious, but there’s actually a surprising amount we do know. Using math we can calculate things and come up with theories about how we die if we fall into them. If you’re the sort of person who gets excited about maths and calculating these things for yourself, …our friends at Brilliant have put together a fantastic black hole quiz to help you get your head around them. Brilliant is a problem-solving website that teaches you to think like a scientist, by guiding you through the problems. They take concepts like these, break them up into bite-sized pieces, present clear thinking in each part, and then build back up to an interesting conclusion. If you visit Brilliant.org/nutshell or click the link in the description, you can sign up for free and learn all kinds of cool stuff. And as a bonus for Kurzgesagt viewers, the first 688 people will also get 20% off their annual membership. If you want to truly learn about black holes and support Kurzgesagt, this is one of the best ways to do it.

100 Comments

  1. Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell said:

    There's brand new stuff in the Kurzgesagt Merch Shop. Check it out here: shop.kurzgesagt.org

    February 8, 2019
    Reply
  2. Shaggy said:

    The golden ratio will solve the recurring spin

    October 23, 2019
    Reply
  3. Crown GD said:

    Starcraft lol

    October 23, 2019
    Reply
  4. Crown GD said:

    The black hole BOMB = BIGBANG

    October 23, 2019
    Reply
  5. Andrew V said:

    6:43 halo ring

    October 23, 2019
    Reply
  6. neil deboi said:

    is this all true? and what are the resources?

    October 23, 2019
    Reply
  7. Nice Tits said:

    Sounds kinda sketchy, can I see your sources? I also and why don't you post your sources?

    October 23, 2019
    Reply
  8. William Solia said:

    How would you spot a block hole in complete darkness lol?

    October 24, 2019
    Reply
  9. Lucien Karst said:

    But couldnt light just be produced from the rotational energy?

    October 24, 2019
    Reply
  10. Random said:

    Homer

    October 24, 2019
    Reply
  11. Tang Tang said:

    Avengers theme song intensifies

    October 24, 2019
    Reply
  12. GRUTH 145 said:

    i think that you lost me halfway through the video because you didn’t fully explain why a spinning black hole is so important
    you didn’t explain how and why those things happen
    you failed to explain the back knowledge that supports the knowledge you gave us
    i think you forgot that a lot of us don’t know those supporting knowledge

    October 24, 2019
    Reply
  13. The Legend of Leviathan said:

    GUNBUSTER

    October 24, 2019
    Reply
  14. HellFire said:

    But how does the emr gain kenetic energy sense it is already going to speed of light

    October 24, 2019
    Reply
  15. Final Master said:

    Fun fact: To create a building size black hole with only brute force, you must exert the energy of around 97 sun-sized explosions, aka supernovas, at once.

    Keep in mind, it's a building sized black hole.

    October 24, 2019
    Reply
  16. Harold From Total Drama said:

    6:24 oh its the pewdiepie logo just with a new code of paint

    October 24, 2019
    Reply
  17. Captain NootNoot96 said:

    Gonna point out a possibility, speed of light travel might be possible because of this. If you could somehow get something like a blackhole into a rocket and use the mirror technique, and then funnel that energy out of one end of the rocket, you might be able to launch yourself at light speed. Just a thought though.

    October 25, 2019
    Reply
  18. Lans Hamel said:

    Imagine this being the intro to Steel Ball Run…

    October 25, 2019
    Reply
  19. spindash64 said:

    I remember in a book I read as a kid they talked about Outer and Inner event horizons. Is that simply a misconception, or is that a real thing?

    October 25, 2019
    Reply
  20. dmdz said:

    Technically speaking, shouldn't Hawking Radiation mean we wouldn't even need to kick-start the black hole generator/bomb? The EM waves that the black hole itself emits would reflect off of the mirror shell, and begin accelerating as described..right?

    October 25, 2019
    Reply
  21. rocky said:

    bad idea because of gravity

    October 25, 2019
    Reply
  22. error error said:

    Its payday fellas

    October 25, 2019
    Reply
  23. Stevenn Noorhanii said:

    0:19 starcraft anyone?

    October 25, 2019
    Reply
  24. Twister said:

    "out of context black hole videos dont exist, they cant hurt you"

    1:03:

    October 25, 2019
    Reply
  25. Hugh Jones said:

    "Black Hole Bomb, won't you… Comb?" 😉

    October 25, 2019
    Reply
  26. EternalVoidStar said:

    4:43 look at the rocket
    *Me*: that's what she said. (says in a fancy voice)

    October 25, 2019
    Reply
  27. Divine Presence said:

    Black hole: Sees planet
    Same black hole: This will be a fine addition to my collection…

    October 25, 2019
    Reply
  28. bodaipool said:

    so if the black hole bomb exploded in the middle of the milky way would the milky way be wiped out?

    October 26, 2019
    Reply
  29. James K. said:

    "So the metal of a big asteroid would be enough."
    Big asteroid.
    Big assteroid!

    October 26, 2019
    Reply
  30. lalu andra said:

    Please subtitle indonesia

    October 26, 2019
    Reply
  31. Nat20 Damage said:

    This is the dumbest thing ever

    October 26, 2019
    Reply
  32. Sean Kim said:

    What happens if a black hole was deepest sea or the land?

    October 26, 2019
    Reply
  33. Nereknu Vamnic said:

    So atificali creating microscopic black hole inside super precise nuclear explosion iznt making black hole bomb??

    Im mean we already working on this kind of explosive even microscopic blackhole that explode emit much more energi then nuclear explosion that made it.

    Basicli 2 shockweaves first standart devastating nuclear explosion followed by ABSOLUTE WALL OF ENERGI FROM BLACK HOLE

    October 26, 2019
    Reply
  34. T R D J said:

    "a ring with thickness of zero and no surface"
    the Lord is testing me

    October 26, 2019
    Reply
  35. T R D J said:

    i love the idea of ending my life around a black hole, but i'd rather choose to blow up the entire universe with a black hole bomb, so the universe can die legendarily

    October 26, 2019
    Reply
  36. Suyash Tiwari said:

    How large could the star be from which the blackhole in the center of milky way was formed

    October 26, 2019
    Reply
  37. View This said:

    5:22 A Black Hole Bomb….A Dyson Sphere….
    Darth's " Death Star " is starting to make a bit more sense now.

    October 26, 2019
    Reply
  38. Andrew 01 said:

    The largest bomb in the universe

    "THE US WANTS TO KNOW YOUR LOCATION"

    October 27, 2019
    Reply
  39. Tiff The Myth said:

    2:17
    An allusion

    October 27, 2019
    Reply
  40. Thiago Ribeiro said:

    Waiting for the jojokes from part 7 …

    October 27, 2019
    Reply
  41. Quirky Honor said:

    Me watching this video: 🤯

    October 27, 2019
    Reply
  42. William Xu said:

    bye

    October 28, 2019
    Reply
  43. Aryannah Goodman said:

    how would we make a mirror to get endless amounts of energy

    October 28, 2019
    Reply
  44. Nat Shaw said:

    Is this channel german/dutch?

    October 28, 2019
    Reply
  45. Kimya Dostu said:

    0:21 if you know this scene is ''Starcraft'' game

    October 28, 2019
    Reply
  46. Brandon Sutton said:

    Would be awesome to have a command and conquer type strategy game with this artwork and setup. 0:19

    October 28, 2019
    Reply
  47. cutekillerboy said:

    5:52 the metal of a big as(s) PAUSES hold up I will be right back

    October 28, 2019
    Reply
  48. Europa said:

    Neat!

    October 29, 2019
    Reply
  49. Rukayat Okunola said:

    I see pinkie and the brain reference

    October 29, 2019
    Reply
  50. CapnNemo said:

    That's a trippy thought… Where would we turn to if humanity lasted until the stars died?
    The darkest place in the universe

    October 29, 2019
    Reply
  51. Astro Sugoi said:

    If I’m in the ergo sphere and to stand still you need to be faster then the speed of light, when I leave, would I experience time dilation since it’s going very fast?

    October 29, 2019
    Reply
  52. Iris Diaz said:

    Do black holes exist

    October 29, 2019
    Reply
  53. Cedric said:

    this guy: lets destroy all the nukes
    also this guy: lets make a bomb out of a fucking black hole

    October 30, 2019
    Reply
  54. Gkez Ad said:

    wait, is that protoss nexus?!

    October 30, 2019
    Reply
  55. Firstname Lastname said:

    I learned something here.

    Thank you.

    October 30, 2019
    Reply
  56. David Aguilera said:

    Kurzgesagt Starcraft skin FTW

    October 30, 2019
    Reply
  57. Bad Beard Bill said:

    Could also set up an accretion disk and burn up mass into energy at something like 30% efficiency. So basically an artificial quasar powering your civilization, cause why not be hardcore?

    October 30, 2019
    Reply
  58. RIDING CDA over_it_films said:

    HUGE NOD 6:58 for the nod to the Simpsons my dude, LOVE THAT.!!! D.I.F.H.

    October 30, 2019
    Reply
  59. B 51 said:

    7:07 looks like something from halo

    October 30, 2019
    Reply
  60. Сова Разумная said:

    Did someone noticed 0:19 being Starcraft reference?

    October 30, 2019
    Reply
  61. Krzeszny said:

    Pinky and the Brain!

    October 30, 2019
    Reply
  62. soju69jinro said:

    7:02 I love that Homer Simpson reference xD

    October 30, 2019
    Reply
  63. AsterLight said:

    I wish he would explain the video in english this time.

    October 30, 2019
    Reply
  64. David Adu said:

    Dude, listening to what the music team makes is stunning, well done to them!

    October 31, 2019
    Reply
  65. un wn fome said:

    7:01 "do it for her"
    the simpson

    October 31, 2019
    Reply
  66. xc5647321 xc5647321 said:

    An educational video whose content is lost on anti USA retards in the comments. Hahahahahahahahahahaha

    October 31, 2019
    Reply
  67. jos said:

    you know that black holes doesnt suck you in right? It's called gravuty, we have it on earth. Just a headsup for the animations

    November 1, 2019
    Reply
  68. Rohit Garg said:

    What do you mean by "stronger" at 6:40 ???
    Will the em waves increase in quantity (which is not possible) or get faster (not possible) ?

    November 1, 2019
    Reply
  69. Derp said:

    how to steal energy from a black hole

    1. jump in a black hole
    2. carry the energies
    3. die

    November 1, 2019
    Reply
  70. Julie Martin said:

    You can make a black hole hyperdrive

    November 1, 2019
    Reply
  71. xd_Phoenix said:

    Wait so… do singularities exist? Or are they all ringulaity

    November 1, 2019
    Reply
  72. THE GAMER GEEK said:

    Kurzgesagt:- *BLACK HOLES ARE. QUITE SMALL.*
    ME:- THINKS ABOUT "**TON-618**"
    *ARE YOU SURE BOUT THAT?*

    November 2, 2019
    Reply
  73. Richard M said:

    I love this its all factualy true

    November 2, 2019
    Reply
  74. M.A. R said:

    Somebody needs to write a sci-fi novel about this. Title it “The Last Home” or something like that.

    November 2, 2019
    Reply
  75. e12agent said:

    This is all cool and stuff, but remember that cosmic proportions are so huge that you'd have to be God to even think about playing with Black holes

    November 2, 2019
    Reply
  76. Disco The talking budgie said:

    How but just wait until the next big bang

    November 2, 2019
    Reply
  77. Ken Schmitt said:

    deep time, trillions of trillions of years

    November 3, 2019
    Reply
  78. Mr Pumpkink said:

    7:10 its looks like and works like from halo rings

    November 3, 2019
    Reply
  79. Mini_theKitty :3 said:

    how to steal energy from a monster

    black hole: oi! i have feelings. >:c

    November 3, 2019
    Reply
  80. eddie wong said:

    What if black hole with sun

    November 3, 2019
    Reply
  81. Mariano Barros said:

    Ha! I loved the starcraft picture

    November 3, 2019
    Reply
  82. Julio Alfonzo said:

    Black hole bomb
    , won't you come?

    November 3, 2019
    Reply
  83. mienzillaz said:

    Homer, wake up!

    November 4, 2019
    Reply
  84. just another account said:

    knowing humanity, if we as a species lived long enough to even get to the point of a universe with only black holes, we would create new stars. we have already shat on the idea about the laws of nature, and natural selection with medicine, organ transplants etc.

    November 4, 2019
    Reply
  85. Maximino Garcia said:

    TOP 3 SADDEST MOMENTS IN ANIME

    November 4, 2019
    Reply
  86. Joanie said:

    What is a bomb made of

    November 5, 2019
    Reply
  87. Mazen Alam said:

    I love this guys accent

    November 5, 2019
    Reply
  88. Marcos Fernandes said:

    3:36 "Take the supermassive black hole" – Muse song reference

    November 5, 2019
    Reply
  89. Gamma 9 said:

    God; how fast do you want to spin
    Black hole; LUDACRIS SPEED!!!!

    November 7, 2019
    Reply
  90. JustSomeGuy said:

    Pinky and Brain plus Homer Simpson lolz very good

    November 7, 2019
    Reply
  91. Neon Dragon Elite said:

    Explanation why is there a Halo ring

    November 7, 2019
    Reply
  92. Albi Ranxha said:

    Part 7 niggas be like

    November 7, 2019
    Reply
  93. Gabriel Junqueira said:

    But, when a super nova happens, it releaves a lot of dust in the space. This dust, after some years, will concentrate into new stars, right?
    So the universe is not going to be dark.
    Am i wrong? 😬

    November 7, 2019
    Reply
  94. Dawson Toulouse said:

    That looked like a halo ring blowing up at the end. Subtle hint?

    November 7, 2019
    Reply
  95. x AestheticFires x said:

    FRICKIN WHEN I GROW UP I WANNA DO THIS

    November 9, 2019
    Reply
  96. Dubby said:

    0:22 you must construct additional pylons

    November 9, 2019
    Reply
  97. Neil Murthy said:

    Me: oh I know soo much about black holes!! Why am I not already aB scientist?? ?? ?

    Me then watches the video

    Also me: NAANI??

    November 9, 2019
    Reply
  98. Landon M. said:

    Thanks for telling me how to make a black hole nuke

    November 9, 2019
    Reply
  99. TrUSt NaugHtY said:

    these energy that we get could change the world or make a nuke with it hehe

    November 10, 2019
    Reply
  100. I love Vidz said:

    But don't you think that the exploit will be fixed

    November 10, 2019
    Reply

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