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Black Holes and Such

Date: Mon Jun 1 00:14:31 1998
Posted by YiWei Wang
Grade level: 10-12
School: Cupertino High School
City: Cupertino State/Province: CA
Country: USA

Message:

Hello... For a physics research project, I must conduct some sort of interview, and I was wondering if somebody could help me out by answering some questions I have about black holes and the careers that surround this type of thing, and if possible, about you and your own occupation. 1. What is your career, and what does this involve? 2. Which careers are associated with black holes? 3. Have you had any experience with black holes? 4. Do you find them interesting? 5. Did you learn about black holes during the process of your education? 6. Could black holes actually provide wormholes through space? 7. If so, could humans ever use them? Thank you so much for your time and cooperation! YiWei Wang


1. What is your career, and what does this involve?
I am an astronomer and a programmer. My primary job is to help calibrate the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS), one of the instruments on board the Hubble Space Telescope. I help analyze data from STIS that let's us understand better how it performs. I also get to use some of that data for scientific research. I am very lucky to be able to do this!

2. Which careers are associated with black holes?
Well, astronomy of course. Observers can use telescopes to look for evidence of black holes (STIS is a wonderful tool for this: I review a STIS black hole observation on my website). Theorists can try to model how a black hole behaves, which observers can use to look for even more evidence. Oddly, particle physics is involved as well, since the environments near black holes can be tremendously hot, a lot of odd particles can be formed.

3. Have you had any experience with black holes?
A little. I don't study black holes directly, but I helped a bit with the STIS observations. In the past I studied supernovae, or exploding stars, and many of those form black holes. Generally though I was involved with studying the immediate surroundings of supernovae, and not what happened in the center.

4. Do you find them interesting?
Sure! The lure of the exotic is one of the reasons I study astronomy!

5. Did you learn about black holes during the process of your education?
Yes. Classes I took on stellar evolution talked about them, and we had a class where we would read current papers and discuss them, and black hole papers were common.

6. Could black holes actually provide wormholes through space?
Some theorists think so. No one really knows. The last I heard, even if they could generate a wormhole, the entrance would be microscopically small, and the gravity inside the wormhole would tear you apart. Oh well!

7. If so, could humans ever use them?
See my answer above.

There is a lot of information about black holes on the web. A good place to start is the list of astronomy links on my web page. There are lots of links to other astronomy sites, including black hole info.



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