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IU physicist modifies Einstein’s theory, says black holes might contain universe

By Kevin Doran

An IU astronomer and physicist has published a theory stating that our universe might be inside a black hole and that black holes in our own universe might contain universes of their own.

Nikodem Poplawski, a research associate in the Department of Physics, used Einstein’s general relativity equation to calculate certain aspects of space-time and solved some problems in how physicists think about the structure of the universe and black holes.

“In March earlier this year, I published an article proposing the idea that in each black hole there is no singularity, but instead that each black hole can contain its own universe,” Poplawski said.

Poplawski explained that each black hole is thought to contain a singularity, a point of infinite density that general relativity cannot explain. This massive density means that gravity is so strong nothing can escape it, including light.

His suggestion was that each observed black hole, like those known to be in the center of galaxies, might not contain a singularity, but perhaps a wormhole and a smaller universe.

“My paper showed how you can get a wormhole with a smaller universe inside,” Poplawski said. “In order to do that, I had to slightly modify Einstein’s theory.”

IU junior and astronomy enthusiast Maura Campbell said she is unsure about parts of the theory because they are so far beyond what she can conceive.

“It makes me wish I knew more about physics,” she said. “Otherwise, the universe seems like one big chaotic mess.”

In the study, Poplawski combined information from general relativity and proposed a scenario that brings the ideas together and helps explain certain cosmological facts.

“My theory states that matter in a black hole would not collapse into a singularity, but collapses to a very high-density state and then rebounds and begins to expand,” Poplawski said.

He used this rebounding as a way to explain the expansion of the universe.

“The paper shows that if you analyze the dynamics of the universe immediately after the matter inside the back hole rebounds, these dynamics can explain a few problems that Big Bang cosmology was not able to solve,” he said.

Poplawski also explained why time can only move in one direction. Because universes create black holes with smaller universes and more black holes and so on, the path only leads one direction — one cannot move away from a black hole, only toward it.

Campbell said she was happy to learn that an IU researcher came up with a theory this complex, even though she herself has trouble trying to visualize the extent of it.

“I see that as possible, because anything could be in a black hole as far as we know,” Campbell said. “I don’t think it means anything too much for us because it’s so far beyond everything. That’s what is most interesting to me.”

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