Aphelion Issue 240, Volume 23
June 2019
 
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Black and White

by Meghashri Dalvi


The Wise Man rose customarily as the King entered, but it was the King who bowed to the Wise Man. A tradition of honoring the knowledge and wisdom.

"Please, take a seat," the King offered. "We are waiting to hear your new discovery."

The Wise Man smiled.

The courtroom was full. As it was several times before. When the Wise Man had talked about their planet and their energy-supplying star, and the possibility of space travel.

Or when he had synthesized sweet mushrooms and demonstrated plastic surgery.

Or when he had explained imaginary numbers and put forward the theory of sub-atomic particles.

The citizens savored such occasions, just as the Wise Man himself.

He began in the deep, slow voice of his hundred-odd years.

"The question has been at the back of my mind for a long time. The expanding universe indicated by the violet shift meant something. I wanted to find out what it meant. I considered a number of theories. Some matched the existing observations, some did not. Then a few days back, as I sat with all my collected data, it realized on me."

A young student in a far corner strained his neck for a clearer view. His eyes squinted as focused on the Wise Man.

"Imagine being at the very edge of a bucket full of water. Now, if water is sucked from the center of the bucket, it will appear to you as if all the nearby droplets are drifting away from you. Mind you, they appear to move away, but in reality, they are moving towards the center. The sucking force experienced by you will be much less than the force on the particles that are closer to the center. This all makes the surface ripples on water look strained or stretched. I hope it is clear..."

"It is," the King assured.

"Such a phenomenon is happening to our Universe! Right now!" The Wise Man announced dramatically. "A great force at the center of the universe is constantly pulling the matter towards it. Our planetary system is at the edge of our galaxy and if you take the analogy that far..."

The bewildered student was thinking rapidly, if the pull was really that great to hurl the stars towards it, then it must be the strongest kind of force ever! What would be its nature then? What has created it? What controls it?

"Then it must follow that there is this big hole at the center of our universe." The Wise Man was painstakingly elaborating. "The pull of this hole is great, I mean so great that it even pulls light inside it. And once inside, the gigantic power stops everything from coming out - including light.

"When we call something black, we mean that the thing does not reflect any color, any light. In the same sense, I call this strange and powerful hole a Black Hole!"

Black Hole! The student gasped. A hole that swallows everything! Matter, space, and even light! But wait! Matter cannot be totally destroyed like this. Where does this sucked matter actually go?

***

"Interesting," commented the Big Blob. Its deep blue eyes, matching neatly with the pale blue body, held surprise.

The Small Blob, still shining in the glory of youth, acknowledged nervously.

"That should solve the mystery of the universe forever, shouldn’t it?"

"Oh! Life is not that simple." The senior furrowed its brow-like structure.

"But isn't that the greatest mystery ever? And isn't it solved completely with my work?"

"Well, the mystery is still not solved, my dear."

"Why sir, I in fact -"

"No. It would be premature to publish your results."

"Sir, when we began research in this direction, you had promised me universal fame. Why not publish the work now?"

"Your fame would eventually come." The Big Blob said solemnly.

"But sir, my reasoning is logical. Pink shift is firmly established. Data collected over centuries confirm it. Expanding universe is a natural phenomenon. And -"

"Patience, my child. A scientist does not spill facts like that."

"But they are the facts. Aren't they?" Junior’s voice now had a distinct hint of irritation.

"Yes. But they don't support your theory."

"They do! Look here, sir - imagine a bucket full of water. At the center of this bucket, there is a hole. From this hole water is continuously seeping into the bucket. Now this action will create steady ripples in the bucket moving from the center to the edge."

"Yes."

"Imagine us living very near the center of the bucket. To us it will appear that the ripples and the droplets on them are moving away from us. If we try to collect information about more droplets that are nearer to the edge of the bucket, they will also appear to be moving away."

"So?"

"Let us take that picture and apply to our universe. It then becomes very clear why the stars are moving away from us and why our universe is expanding."

"You say there is a hole at the center of our universe, and the hole is supplying matter to us all the time?"

"Yes."

"And what makes the matter pop from this hole?"

"Well, as you know, matter cannot be destroyed or created -"

"That is the whole point!" the bigger, older body quivered. "You have not clarified that."

"That did baffle me at first. But I think a theory can be put forward."

"Like?"

"Like a white hole."

"A white hole?"

"Yes. A hole that sources all the time."

"Huh! I would have agreed. But tell me, where would so much matter come from?"

"From another universe, of course!"


2019 Meghashri Dalvi

Dr. Meghashri Dalvi consults in Technical Communication, when she is not writing science fiction or teaching Management. Her stories have appeared in Aphelion, Ascent Aspirations, Anotherealm, Quantummuse, AntiSF, 101Words, and Flash Fiction Press.

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