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Death by black hole

  1. Apr 25, 2007 #1
    I was just reading "A Briefer History of Time". Stephen Hawking describes how your body would be torn to shreds by the increasing forces from gravity as you approach a black hole. I've read this from other sources as well. However, from what I understand about general relativity, gravity isn't a force, but is instead a warping of space-time. A person in free fall can't feel the force of gravity at all even though she is accelerating. A person in free fall doesn't ever feel the "tug" of gravity. So, wouldn't the increase in gravity near a black hole warp you (and all of the space-time around you), but not tear you apart? I'm sure death would be eminent o:) , but how would it be from the changing "force" of gravity?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 25, 2007 #2


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    While a person in free fall can't feel a net force from gravity, he can certainly feel a tidal force, the difference in gravity between his head and his feet, even in free fall.

    It is this tidal force that will tear a person apart, as he approaches the central singularity. The tidal force can actually be a problem even as far away as the event horizon. Sophistication of the models of black hole interiors varies, but in most models that I'm aware of (the Schwarzschild and the BKL models) the tidal force increases without limit as one approaches the central singularity.
  4. Apr 25, 2007 #3
    Sounds like I need to review tidal forces. Thanks for the info!
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