Corporate Cosmos

While working on this cartoon, it had not yet come to my attention that Stephen Hawking had just released a new paper in which he declared “The absence of event horizons mean that there are no black holes – in the sense of regime from which light can’t escape to in finity. There are however apparent horizons which persist for a period of time.” National Geographic and other outlets ran with the somewhat sensationalist quote of Hawking saying ”There are no black holes.” However, as this handy PBS article explains:

To be clear, Hawking was not claiming that black holes don’t exist. Astronomers have been observing black holes for decades, said Joseph Polchinski, theoretical physicist at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

What Hawking did was propose an explanation to one of the most puzzling problems in theoretical physics. How can black holes exist when they seem to break two fundamental laws of physics — Einstein’s laws of relativity and quantum mechanics?

On a different note, an astronomer emailed me to point out that “it is actually much harder to fall into a solar mass black hole than the Sun itself because the former is just so small.” Which is an interesting point, to which I say the CEO of EZ-Naut is more concerned with appearances and marketing than scientific reality.


  • Michael Enoch

    Actually, whether or not black holes exist is still an open question in science and one of the people who is questioning them is Stephen Hawking himself, whose image you used in this comic. Maybe next time do some research.

    • Christian Ready

      You may be surprised to learn that National Geographic and other media mischaracterized Hawking’s statements. He still quite firmly believes that black holes do exist, and there is plenty of empirical observational evidence to back him up.

      • Michael Enoch

        He says that they probably don’t behave the way the original theory states. First of all, they cannot be observed directly, they have to be inferred from observing phenomena around them, second of all observed super dense celestial objects such as Cignus X1 emit x-rays, which would be impossible according to the original theory of what a black hole is. So the idea that “black holes exist” and this is “settled science” is facile thinking, which is about par for the course for this woman’s trivial and thoughtless comic strips. The analogy to the AGW hypothesis doesn’t work and was an obvious attempt to score a cheap political point.

        • LarryRow

          It sounds like the analogy works perfectly, you just can’t see past your partisan hate. The situation is quite complex and scientists are always learning more about it, but that doesn’t make the underlying concept a hoax or a controversial subject. Self-serving simpletons will always try to sow doubt when it’s in their interests. Jen Sorensen characterized the situation perfectly, and you are just icing on her cake, proving her point.

        • Benjamin Schwab

          There is a difference between the original idea of something being incomplete or wrong and the thing not existing. Black holes do exist and they can be observed pretty damned well. Gravity doesn’t work according the the original idea of how it worked but that does not mean that weather gravity exists or not is an open question.

          I would also like to point out that your claims in your two comments here are inconsistent. In one you state that Mr. Hawkings’ claims that black holes behave differently then it was thought they did when their existence was first postulated (which would be a huge surprise if the original theory got everything correct) and in the other you claim that Mr. Hawkings questions their existence. I would also like to point out the irony of criticizing somebody for not doing enough research to get something correct while at the same time talking ignorance about the topic yourself.

          Also the science of black holes (while interesting) is incidental to the point of the comic. Or at-least how I read it. I don’t mind talking about a tangent but this is a tangent. Although it is interesting as you may be proving Mrs. Sorensen’s point. The moment the science of black holes impacts politics or profits, that science takes a back seat to ideology or to profits.

          • Michael Enoch

            The science of black holes has everything to do with the comic, in that she is attempting to take an area of science that she thinks is settled and about which no further questions remain and then make an analogy to the AGW hypothesis which she also probably thinks is settled and no further questions remain, or no questions can be tolerated for her political agenda. I agree with you entirely that science is taking a back seat to ideology here.

          • Benjamin Schwab

            You seam to be lacking in a useful skill. That skill is called reading. Not only does Mrs. Sorensen never say or imply what you are saying she says but I specifically explained to you that there is a difference between knowing that something exists and completely understanding it. If your mind is so simple as to lack the ability to recognize the difference then I suppose I should pity you. But work on reading. Once you can do that at a middle school level then we can go onto something more advanced: metaphor. Feel free to continue to contort yourself to avoid admitting that you have been wrong about something though. Your ignorance is entertaining.

Jen Sorensen is a nationally-published political cartoonist. She is a 2017 Pulitzer Finalist and recipient of the 2014 Herblock Prize and a 2013 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award.