Viewpoint #15

By Nhung Nguyen

Recently, the first ever image of a black hole was released. Prior to this, scientists have been able to visualise stars, moons, planets, solar systems, galaxies, and more. This achievement marked a milestone in scientific advancement and general understanding of our universe. The imaged black hole was at the center of another galaxy, 53.49 million light-years from our own. With this image, we have come to grasp something so very distant from our realities.

We have the technology to render an image of a distant black hole, yet lack the capacity to understand those that are on these 170 acres. Why strive for the publicity of diversity when we are not equipped to foster the reality of it?

Am I fifty-five million light-years away? Does the shape of me resemble a distant galaxy rather than those you are accustomed to viewing? Have you tried to see what is at the core of me?

Black holes are a region of spacetime where the gravitational field is so strong that nothing, not even light, can break free. Event horizons are defined as the surface of a black hole and the boundary beyond which nothing is able to escape.

I wonder if light attempts to leave the confines of this horizon.

Let’s pretend my voice or my light, made so very small, could carry across an unseen threshold, between unmarked margins, and into visibility. I ask myself: How small do I have to make my voice in order to be heard? The irony is evident to me.

Then I recall, there is no sound in the vacuum of space. I could scream, even cry, and with no molecules to vibrate, my voice would be left unheard. No voice, no light. It is not that I lack either, but rather there are no adequate conditions in my environment for such to thrive.

Despite being called a “black hole,” they are not actually empty. In reality, an immense amount of matter is contained in a relatively undersized area.

So full, yet unseen until recently. I will make a home for myself in this place. Always occupy space.

Beyond this single image, researchers cannot directly observe black holes. Instead, scientists rely on the inferred evidence of their presence. For example, scientists study black holes by searching for their effect on nearby matter. If a black hole were to come in contact with interstellar matter, the black hole would draw the matter inward. As the matter is attracted towards the black hole, it accelerates and emits detectable x-rays.

I am here even if some are incapable of watching me. I pity those that ignore me. Hopefully, you can see the effect of me. I used to try and utilize my voice, but the sound did not reach, so now I hold onto it and display the power of my actions instead. Recognize the evidence.

Einstein was one of the early minds to have predicted the existence of black holes. His equations showed that if a dead star’s residual core had a mass three times greater than the mass of the Sun, the force of gravity would produce a black hole.

It feels as if your eyes skim over me because I do not share the appearance of your beloved stars.

To those that are like me and have to exist in this space: We are what is left when destruction has settled. We rose from it all. At every end, we establish a new dawn. I want them to call us “birth” or “beginning” instead of the typical phrases used to mark us. They could refuse, but between you and me, we can have our own language. In voiceless space, we can find a way to speak through the center of faraway galaxies.

When did it come naturally to us to hold everything in? Perhaps at one point, we tried to let light soak through our barriers, but have since forgotten how. Maybe it was a defensive response after they called us “holes” and named us after empty space, a zero. In secret, in darkness, in revolution, we contained and protected our light. Filled with things they refuse to see, for reasons they cannot understand, they label us empty. Little did they know that zeros are a continuous shape that designate every start, commonly used to signify nothingness yet feel like the manifestation of infinity.

From Einstein’s theorizing to recent technological advancements, the imagery of a black hole provides evidence of leaps in scientific understanding when sufficient efforts and resources are dedicated towards the goal of expanding our reality, rather than diminishing what we do not know.

This scientific achievement calls for the inclusion of unseen “others.” Resources need to be utilized in order to support the diversity this school advertises. Efforts have to made in order to care for the diversity we have recruited and publicized. Traditional institutions should be assessed critically in order to meet the demands of a modern space. While the world rightfully celebrated the accomplishment of expanding our current comprehension of outer space, there is still much work to be done in regards to our own space.

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