Black Hole (Encyclopedia of Science)
A black hole, among the most mysterious elements in the universe, is all that remains of a massive star that has used up its nuclear fuel. Lacking energy to combat the force of its own gravity, the star compresses or shrinks in size to a single point, called a singularity. At this point, pressure and density are infinite. Any object or even light that gets too close to a black hole is pulled in, stretched to infinity, and trapped forever. Black holes, so named by American physicist John Wheeler in 1969, are impossible to see, but may account for 90 percent of the content of the universe.
English geologist John Michell and French astronomer Pierre-Simon Laplace first developed the idea of black holes in the eighteenth century. They theorized that if a celestial body were large enough and dense enough, it would exhibit so much gravity that nothing could escape its pull.
This idea can be explained by looking at the effects of gravity on known objects. To break free of Earth's gravity, a spaceship has to travel at a speed of at least 7 miles (11 kilometers) per second. To escape a larger planet like Jupiter, it would have to travel at 37 miles (60 kilometers) per second. And to escape the Sun, it would have to travel at 380 miles (611 kilometers) per second. A large and dense enough object could require the spaceship to go faster than the speed of light, 186,000 miles (299,000...
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Black Hole (Encyclopedia of Science and Religion)
Modern astronomy has produced a theory about the life of stars in which the fate of a star crucially depends on how massive it is. Lighter stars might end as red dwarfs, and heavier stars as enormously dense but tiny neutron stars. The heaviest stars collapse in upon themselves, creating black holes. Black holes are called black because the gravitational force associated with them is so strong that no light can escape. The infinite gravitational attraction at the edge of an event horizon such as a black hole not only warps space but also warps time for the hypothetical observer near the black hole.
See also ASTROPHYSICS; COSMOLOGY, PHYSICAL ASPECTS; GRAVITATION; SINGULARITY
Black Hole (International Dictionary of Psychoanalysis)
Frances Tustin introduced the idea of black holes in her Autistic Barriers in Neurotic Patients (1986). The term was chosen by analogy with ideas in modern astrophysics, which has discovered zones of extraordinary density in the universe that are probably related to the condensation and fusion of several stars. Once formed, such hyperdense zones are thought to exert a sort of attraction upon other stars, which are thus at risk of plunging into the core of these vast concentrations of matter, which swallow them up and strip them of all individuality. It is not hard to see how the metaphor of a "black hole of the psyche" can help explain, or at least help us picture what happens at the core of the psyche of autistic children.
Indeed Tustin had already elaborated on a notion first proposed by Sydney Klein (1980), that of "autistic islands." And, most significantly, in her first book, Autism and Childhood Psychosis (1972), she had painstakingly recounted the case of John, who had described to her, on emerging from autism, what he himself called "the black hole w/the mechant piquant." What John was striving to verbalize in this way was all the pain and suffering he had felt on the occasion of far too brutal and premature a separation between the breast and the nipple, this at a time when nipple and mouth are inextricably conjoined (as described, albeit in a different way, by Piera Aulagnier, with her "complementary zone-object"). Naturally it is less a physical separation that is involved here than a mental oner even, to be quite precise, the inscription in the psyche of the process of separation.
If, for one reason or another, this process turns out to be impossible or impeded, the child is liable to feel as if a part of him- or herself has been cut off.
This traumatic organization of the psyche leaves its mark in the shape of "autistic islands" which fail to become integrated into the cycles of deferred effects and historical time: Their massiveness and their intensity, in autistic children, are an obstacle to their becoming part of mental functioning, and they end up serving as pathological poles of attraction for a whole variety of psychic elements which accrete within their sphere of influence and thus become incapable of dispersing in a manner at once orderly and differentiated.
In the wake of Frances Tustin, the post-Kleinian tendency in psychoanalysis has made wide use of the concept of the black hole, extending it to nonpsychotic subjects in whom autistic islands are possible even if in such cases they are less significant and less serious in their implications.
See also: Autism; Autistic capsule/nucleus; Breakdown.
Klein, Sydney. (1980). Autistic phenomena in neurotic patients. International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 61 (2), 395-401.
Tustin, Frances. (1972). Autism and childhood psychosis. London: Hogarth; New York: Science House. Reprinted, London: Karnac, 1995.
. (1986). Autistic barriers in neurotic patients. London: Karnac.