Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The most horrifying thing that could befall you in outer space also has the most hilarious name

Illustration for article titled The most horrifying thing that could befall you in outer space also has the most hilarious name
Screenshot: YouTube (Fair Use)

Black holes, simply put, are goddamn terrifying. The complex astrophysics involved coupled with their sheer scale and power basically make them points in the universe where your brain would literally and metaphorically be ripped to pieces. Like, we’re talking a force so strong that light (which is very fast, we might add) cannot speed away quickly enough to escape its gravitational pull. If, for some strange reason, you ever happened to find yourself anywhere close to a black hole, then you would be assured a very painful, very confusing, and reality-shattering demise. The official name for that horrific fate? Spaghettification.

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Wait. What did you just tweet at 3 a.m., Discover Magazine? Spaghettification? That sounds less like a very real, mathematically assured hell-death than a damn Wile E. Coyote gag. “If you jumped into the black hole feet first,” ponders Discover, “the gravitational force on your toes would be much stronger than that pulling on your head. Each bit of your body would also be elongated in a slightly different direction. You would literally end up looking like a piece of spaghetti.”

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This isn’t all hypothesis, either. Back in 2014, apparently, astronomers observed a black hole’s “tidal disruption event,” which is a much more appropriately scary term for quantum physic-induced death. “...Several space telescopes caught a star wander[ing] too close to a black hole. The star was stretched out and shredded, causing some of the material to fall beyond the event horizon, while the rest was flung back out into space.”

So there you have it, folks. As if the universe wasn’t cruel enough already, its worst case scenario is also its dumbest-sounding. Somehow, we aren’t surprised. But hey, speaking of spagett-induced surprises...

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Andrew Paul is a contributing writer with work recently featured by NBC Think, GQ, Slate, Rolling Stone, and McSweeney's Internet Tendency. He writes the newsletter, (((Echo Chamber))).

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