Exit Door from Our Universe

Scientists measured the “circumference” of a supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy M87. It contains the mass of 6 billion suns and is a brisk 50 million light-years away from the Milky Way.

By “circumference”, I mean the smallest orbit you can fly around at without falling into what MIT’s Shep Doeleman calls the “exit door from our universe”.

So how long is this shortest of trips around the black hole? It’s about 70,000,000,000 miles. Somehow I can’t think about that number for longer than 5 seconds without being overwhelmed by a mix of awe, wonder, and fear.

The universe is so incredibly big, and I (Lex Fridman, a Phildelphia resident) am so incredibly small. This is humbling if not paralyzing.

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