So that you can touch the tip of the iceberg in one click, here is Google's serving of black holes in relation to resources which illustrates use of the term across a wide socio-economic spectrum. Most of the entries you'll find there are relatively recent, since the phrase has only become popular in fiscal cultures over the last couple of years. Is it a coincidence that a furore over potential creation of black holes in the laboratory arose among the populace at around the same time?
Last night at a friend's house over a bottle of wine, the Black Hole analogy for fiscal frittery was explored. By 'explored', I mean a suggestion was made that there is more to the black hole than meets the eye - surely in certain circumstances a positive connotation could be drawn from the negative inference? My friend was not convinced, and the subject submerged, so the conversation could hardly be described as having trawled the depth of implications surrounding this mysterious event horizon.
Black holes have certain characteristics which set them apart from everything else in Nature. The most profound of these is the fate of the material a black hole swallows. Physics can account for some of the processing which goes on in the vortex of doom, but our understanding of science doesn't allow for any glimpses beyond the singularity - the heart of a black hole where gravity condenses matter to unimaginable pressures and the laws of physics we know about break down. From there, the tale wags nonchalantly until such time as evidence surfaces for the rest of the story to be told. My money is on some incarnation of a 'white fountain', the outpouring of energy in another dimension or region of spacetime to which the singularity has forged a 'wormhole'. Perhaps this is due in part to a love of Stargate SG1, but in truth I had suspicions about the case in point long before I knew about the long-running series.
Brought into a social context, it's apparent that black holes have followed hot on the heels of blue-sky thinking, a pre-loved Mecca of intellect which the corporate world was once sure would save it from fiscal doom. Spiralling the current circuitry of language logistics fly words like Uncertainty and Infinity and Quantum, describing trends and products ranging from futures markets to feminine hygiene disposables.
The outlook is not all as black as it may appear. In the context of my friend's example, her invaluable work in hospital fundraising found itself branded with Black Hole terminology when in fact her efforts had secured visible successes of unequalled proportions, including revolutionary ward refurbishments and new equipment which would otherwise have remained out-takes of boardroom ideology. Her anger at such injustice could not be quelled by my assertion that the invisible part of the singularity spectrum was vast, so vast it could not be fathomed, and that the general consensus of social opinion - that every effort to focus productive expenditure was a waste of time - was merely the fear-fuelled overspill of a modern malady, a depth of despair at the greed and corruption which threatens to overtake common sense and the common capacity for considered change.
The fact is, while the planet continues its journey through the galactic medium, we live on a Monopoly board of illusionary catastrophe. Money is a manufactured resource, not a real one. While we cocoon ourselves with an idea of safety in monetary numbers, we are constantly striving to secure more of it. Nowhere is this truer than in the highest branches of the corporate canopy, where the mega-rich fall over themselves and each other in attempting to snatch a greater share of whatever there is, concurrently shoring up overflowing vats of what, in reality, there really isn't.
In living life to the full, we have only our own personal worlds to play with. How we treat our personal spacetime is a matter of value, and we know that moral value has far more substance in real terms than the play-doh of profiteering. Happiness comes from the fulfilment of dreams, and those dreams are deeply set in loves and freedoms which have nothing to do with what's in the bank. When we can reach agreement to improve our personal environments, at home and in the workplace, by using the power of our minds and intuitively shared values, we have a chance to make changes worth having. While we continue to gripe about grievances and energise pointless cycles of blame and guilt, we stay trapped in the vortex of crumbling capitalism where the harmonics of higher purpose are shunned, and dreams of riches are hollow horses washed up on distant shores of a future waiting to be created.
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Kathy is the author of Quantumology. She met up with quantum mechanics in 1997, pledging allegiance to its sources thereafter. These are her personal thoughts and testimonies.