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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Cealocanth's Avatar

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    Default Containing a Singularity

    Hey Playgrounders. It seems that a general roadblock has appeared in the upcoming plot for a D&D campaign.

    So the plot of the campaign has been established, the drastic end of the world scenario is put in place, and the last question that remained is "why"?
    Specifically, why is it that if the Alu'Nore (filling the evil cult position for the campaign) manage to invade the city of Yamen'Kathala and take possession of the Great Temple's power (which theoretically comes from an Ancient (technological civilization of times long forgotten) artifact buried beneath the pyramid) cause the island to sink into the sea as has been prophesied.

    The answer was fairly simple. The Ancients were a technologically advanced race, so I'm sure they managed to create a quantum singularity at some point in their history. Perhaps said singularity is the artifact that is being held beneath the Temple, because the temple was built on top of it. Now, when the players find this singularity, how will it be contained.

    And that's the roadblock. It would need to be contained by legitimate technological reasons with technology no more than perhaps a century more advanced than modern man. It would also need to not require a constant source of external energy like electrical devices do, and it would have to remain contained under the weight of a massive stone pyramid for several millennia. It would also have to not burn out after the same amount of time.

    So the question is, theoretically, how could a singularity be contained while also following the criteria above?
    Currently RPG group playing: Endworld (D&D 5e. A Homebrewed post-apocalyptic supplement.)

    My campaign settings: Azura; 10,000 CE | The Frozen Seas | Bloodstones (Paleolithic Horror) | AEGIS - The School for Superhero Children | Iaphela (5e, Elder Scrolls)

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Containing a Singularity

    Could you give me a precise definition for the Quantum Singularity and how it behaves?
    Alstroemeria and Shozin in Thrair's War of the Final Whisper.

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    Default Re: Containing a Singularity

    The extent of knowledge I have in this field is from reading science fiction books, mostly, so if it helps, it's the kind of singularity theoretically located within a black hole.

    Specifically, it's a below quantum particle sized gravitational singularity. It's small and unstable enough to do nothing more than cause several nasty earthquakes as well as completely destroy small landmasses such as the island it's located when it's released into the planet. A short time after it's release, it will decay.

    That's really the best I can give you. I'd be happy to hear what kind would actually do any of that, if any of you have more expertise than I.
    Currently RPG group playing: Endworld (D&D 5e. A Homebrewed post-apocalyptic supplement.)

    My campaign settings: Azura; 10,000 CE | The Frozen Seas | Bloodstones (Paleolithic Horror) | AEGIS - The School for Superhero Children | Iaphela (5e, Elder Scrolls)

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    Titan in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Containing a Singularity

    Do you know how they made the singularity? If not, why not just handwave the containment too? Make a "singularity containment device" in the most thematically-appropriate size and shape, say the secrets have been lost to history, and treat it like a Sealed Evil in a Can.

    OR you could make it so the device prevents the singularity from occuring at all, and it's failure (or hitting the right button) results in the singularity's occurrence. It uses large reserves of nuclear power, so it can keep running for a veeery long time.



    "Science. He's a scientist, and he used Science"

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Containing a Singularity

    Well, if it's a D&D campaign, I would say magic. Maybe Reverse Gravity?

    So, it's a gravitational singularity, smaller than a quantum sized particle?
    From what little I know, that already sounds strange and impossible. Quanta are really, really small, for something like that to have enough energy/mass to destroy a small landmass and create a gravitational singularity...
    If you're going to make up a strange physical phenomena, you can make up any means of containing it you like...

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Containing a Singularity

    If a known method existed for doing that, don't you think someone would've already done so in the real world? We don't know how to contain the gravity of black holes. The latest Star Trek movie had a contained black hole in it though. You can read what little there is here.

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    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: Containing a Singularity

    How about a device that generates a singularity?

    That would allow you to have an unstable singularity that burns out on schedule, without anyone asking why it was stable until now. And you won't have to justify containing it.

    include a few spherical chambers under the pyramid where similar devices were used by the ancients. Maybe the ancients put floors and walls in them, so the characters will have to figure out that the section of the dungeon they are in is actually a sphere.

    If the device is a machine, then the characters have to get to the controls and figure out how to shut it down. If the device is more akin to a bomb, you can put several of them in the cultists' hands -- when the cult has been defeated, the characters have to decide what to do with the rest of the devices.

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    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: Containing a Singularity

    So, the phrasing Quantum Singularity is a bit...nonstandard. But let's assume that all you mean is a basic Black Hole. Then the question becomes, how big is it?

    Typically, a Black Hole dies off due to Hawking Radiation. For a Black Hole to have a lifetime of a thousand years it must have a mass of at least 1.8x10^9 kg, or about a third of the mass of the Great Pyramid of Giza, which is I suppose plausible, and since the lifetime increases with the cube of the mass it isn't too hard to have it longer-lived either.

    To contain it, I agree with whoever said that Reverse Gravity would be an answer. One should note that the object won't have an especially powerful pull if it's actually that small. For this object, mG=0.12 m^3/s^2, so even at a meter away you're seeing only about 1/10's earth's surface gravity. If they gave the thing a net charge and put it into an electric field it would be pretty easy to keep it aloft.
    Lord Raziere herd I like Blasphemy, so Urpriest Exalted as a Malefactor

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    Default Re: Containing a Singularity

    Its contained within a Dilithium crystal.

    Spoiler
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    I think the reference here is a bit obvious


    Its contained within a large snake which survives by continuously eating it's own tail.

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    I doubt you will get this. A singularity is where the maths breaks down resulting in an equation having an infinite term. This is why singularities are so hard to make: they are beyond our understanding of physics. Also: As our understanding increases, the maths gets fixed, and the singularity disappears.
    The snake is of course: Ouroborous, the symbol of infinity.
    Last edited by nedz; 2012-09-18 at 08:51 PM.
    π = 4
    Consider a 5' radius blast: this affects 4 squares which have a circumference of 40' Actually it's worse than that.


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    Titan in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Containing a Singularity

    Quote Originally Posted by nedz View Post
    Its contained within a large snake which survives by continuously eating it's own tail.

    Spoiler
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    I doubt you will get this. A singularity is where the maths breaks down resulting in an equation having an infinite term. This is why singularities are so hard to make: they are beyond our understanding of physics. Also: As our understanding increases, the maths gets fixed, and the singularity disappears.
    The snake is of course: Ouroborous, the symbol of infinity.
    Mechanical/metal snake-resembling machine, which persists by forging and reforging itself endlessly, a self-sustaining engine powered by the Singularity itself. A great shining light (from the singularity) emerges from where mouth and tail meet, and moves steadily along the snake. As the stabilizer melts down, the light circles faster and faster, since it's out of control. At the climax, during the final battle, the whole system shines with eye-scorching intensity as the singularity roars to near-infinite speed.

    If the PCs win, they can slow the machine, so the light's movement slows almost to a stop, and the process begins anew. But they can't stop the infinity; disposal is too dangerous, they can't stop the End of All Things, merely delay it for.. another few hundred? a few thousand years?... Then, the fight must be fought again, by new heroes, and a new enemy.

    If the PC's lose, the snake explodes and annihilates all, the last thing the PCs see is pure white light and are destroyed instantly, then darkness... and many billions of years later, the world is reborn.


    EDIT: Obviously this would work better if there's a clear life/rebirth-cycle theme.
    Last edited by Slipperychicken; 2012-09-18 at 09:57 PM.

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Containing a Singularity

    First, let's break down how dangerous a gravitational singularity is, and what happens if Our Heroes don't Do Something.

    A black hole with an event horizon of even a nanometer is a serious threat to the planet, because no force in existence is capable of preventing any matter that passes into that event horizon from compressing down into a single, 0-dimensional point. Not electromagnetic bonds or repulsion between distinct protons and electrons, nor even the nuclear forces that keep subatomic particles from spacially overlapping.... and every atom ever discovered or produced has been considerably less than a nanometer in size, as measured by the diameter of its electrons' orbits. (Diameter of the nucleus might be a better measure for this threat, and it's several orders of magnitude smaller, but I'll stick with this.)

    Outside of the event horizon (er, let's call it a few times the event horizon to be safe), we don't notice the black hole at all. It's actually not all that massive, and doesn't generate that much gravity; what's special about it is that it's packed so tight that the gravity it DOES generate reaches a critical threshhold before we reach the boundary of its mass. The problem isn't standing near the black hole; it's coming in CONTACT with it (or, at least, its event horizon). And I mean actual contact. What we normally think of touching something is actually nothing of the sort. When we, say, pick up a glass, the molecules in the glass aren't actually coming into physical contact with our hand. That's the stuff of nuclear fusion. No, what's happening is that the electrons in both sets of molecules are mutually repulsing each other, preventing actual contact from being made and actually holding the molecules quite a bit more than atomic distances from each other. It's like you have a "don't touch me" force field repelling everything away from you... but only a few nanometers away from you.

    Except the black hole doesn't output this electromagnetic force, and thus isn't affected. It bump into atoms, and something oh-so-much worse than fusion takes place. Decent people don't think about these kinds of things.

    If this black hole were free-falling (uncontained), then nothing would stop it from reaching the center of relative gravity (the Earth's core). Nothing at ALL. The good news is that it would have very little gravitational pull, so it wouldn't actually be drawing things into it, or significantly affecting but anything that DID come into it would go bye-bye, adding its own mass to that of the black hole's. It would sink through the ground, absorbing and consuming the matter it came into "contact" with, producing needle-hole about a nanometer in width headed towards the earth's core. More good news: this is not a large enough hole to allow for volcanic outflow or even trigger earthquakes.

    So it gets to the earth's core. Atoms are pressed together pretty tightly near the earth's core, so our black hole's bound to come into contact with something. Velocity causes it to shoot past the center of the earth. It probably doesn't go through the exact center of mass, because rotational velocity at the surface will give it more of a parabolic path, but it gets close enough for government work. It then shoots past the center and back out towards the earth's surface on the opposite side of the planet, the hole to China, if you will.

    Except it doesn't get there. It's been absorbing mass as it goes, and this mass had less gravitational potential energy relative to mass the closer to the Earth's core it was. By the time it reaches it's maximum "height", it's probably at least doubled in mass (I'd guess one or two orders of magnitude, rather, but couldn't begin to compute it), and most of that mass came from mantle or nickle-iron core which, if free to fall, would NOT break to the surface. The black hole never emerges, and after several oscillations where its movement is further dampened by absorbed matter, eventually stops moving (or close enough for government work) at the exact center of the Earth's core.

    Note that this is STILL not causing tidal distortions sufficient for earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, or so forth. As far as anyone at the surface is so far concerned, nothing at all has happened.

    But they're going to be concerned very soon. Oh yes.

    Pressure is extremely high at the core, with liquid or semi-liquid nickle-iron pressing in from all directions. For the black hole, this is like a duck being tube fed at massive speed without the unhappy prospect of being turned into fois gras at the end of the process. Consider any particular molecule at the core. Normally it's in a rough equilibrium of forces, with pressure from below being slightly higher than pressure from above, and this being offset by a fairly light gravitational pull downwards. But then the black hole EATS the molecules below you, and there's suddenly no pressure from below. You DROP, straight to the center of mass, actually propelled at tremendous speeds by the pressure of the molecules above... which follow you in turn. A nice arch or self-bracing support structure of some sort might stop this collapse, but no such solid structure really exists at the earth's core. The black hole consumes the entire core, as well as the liquid mantle.

    The entire Earth is now a hollow crust, kinda-braced against itself, with nothing holding it "up". Sort of the arch I was talking about earlier. Except it's nowhere near solid enough for the job. The surface disintegrates -- a bit like the trailers for that 2012 movie I never saw -- and everything collapses Inwards. It's likely proceeded by earthquakes (but NOT volcanoes, since all the magma is being sucked inwards), but I doubt the crust would last more than a minute before it disintegrated. This is probably the first, last, and only warning anyone on the surface gets, and about when we would get very, very concerned for a very brief time.

    At the end of this process, the black hole's event horizon is now a little less than 17.5 kilometers in diameter. The mass of the Earth hasn't changed, nor has its path through the solar system. It's just much, MUCH more tightly packed. Anything NOT held apart from the Earth's core by pressure (ie, physical contact) continues on its merry way unconcerned. The moon might wobble a little bit as the mass it revolves around compressed from a small but significant arc in the sky to a zero-dimensional point, but if so it is a very, very tiny wobble.

    A black hole with an event horizon one nm in radius, which started this whole mess, requires a mass of about 670 million kilograms, or roughly one tenth the mass of the Great Pyramid of Giza.

    The good news is that while a black hole that small can continue to exist in a somewhat stable manner, it cannot spontaneously form from its own mass. For that, you'd need a bit less than 3 times the mass found in our sun. Of course, you've introduced some super-tech magic to this and the black hole can be artificially formed. SEE WHAT YOU DID?

    That's the long of it. The short of it is that a black hole with the mass of one of the Giza pyramids IS a threat and Our Heroes DO need to Do Something About It.

    So what Something are we talking about?

    Job 1 is detection. As mentioned before, this thing doesn't produce significant tidal or tectonic activity until the endgame. Gravitationally, it looks like any other lump of several hundred million kilograms (think a medium-sized hill) and I doubt some Lab Coats in Generic Uber Science Place a few miles away would ever notice a blip on their meters. So instead, Our Heroes need to stum-- er, discover it through Ancient Lore or The Villain's Plans.

    Job 2 is containment. Ideally, this involves whatever existing containment has prevented it from already destroying the Earth. That failing, you need to get it contained BEFORE it falls through the ground.

    There is no Job 3. If Our Heroes fail Job 2, then Job 3 is grab your ankles, bend over, and kiss your but goodbye.

    So, to finally answer your question.... what can contain a black hole? Here's where we get to the Really Bad News. PRETTY MUCH NOTHING.

    As mentioned, the black hole doesn't get repelled from contact with molecules. It can't be "held up" on some sort of pedestal, because it would just eat the pedestal. Other things that don't work are magnets, super-glue, or blowing on it really hard. About the only thing that DOES effect it is gravity, and that's working against you. An alternate strategy might be to build a cage of some sort around it.

    A nice molecule shaped around the black hole could work, maybe some sort of carbon structure. This wouldn't keep the black hole from drawing mass in, so much as hold the mass back. The problem is that it also doesn't prevent the black hole from moving, and either slipping between the atoms of our cage molecule or consuming a few of them on the way out. Our cage might be held up by its environment; the black hole most definitely is not. It would be like holding a sieve filled with water, and expecting the fact that we're holding the sieve's handle to guarantee that the water doesn't leak out.

    So for the cage strategy to work, it must be constructed AFTER the black hole stops moving and is already at the earth's core. Now, the cage molecule could theoretically work... except that in the center of the Earth's core, with the world collapsing around you, and on the threshold of a growing event horizon, is not the ideal environment for doing finicky and precise nanoengineering. The issues of physical access alone are staggering, as is the non-trivial question of where you stand while you work. Also, if the event horizon grows past a certain point, the black hole becomes too big for our cage molecule to work, and I suspect that this will have been done already by the time that the singularity settles to rest at the core. Remember, the cage ONLY works if the black hole is NOT moving around relative to the mass around it.

    So now we have to reach into really theoretical physics, which probably will NOT be available for applied science in the next few generations. There are a few promising things here. In particular, I would suggest dark energy.

    Dark energy is a hypothesized force, or, perhaps, an overlooked element of the gravitational equation. Observations of gravitation in the universe at large haven't quite jived with our ground-based laboratory experiments, or even orbital mechanics in the solar system. It's almost as if gravity is weaker over long distances... even weaker than the inverse-square law would suggest. Dark energy is a repulsive force that explains or expresses this. If we want to be absurd and ignore the fact that dark energy only seems to kick in over long distances (intergalactic), this could hypothetically be used for antigravity... and antigravity is EXACTLY the thing needed to keep our nanoscopic black hole contained. It's extremely theoretical physics twisted into an application that utterly ignores its actual properties of scale, and we have no reason to believe that we could ever intentionally generate it in the first place, and it's STILL our best hope.

    In other words, Our Heroes need to use some of this Ancient Civilization's Magic Artifact Tech, because nothing WE invent will be ready any time soon.
    Alstroemeria and Shozin in Thrair's War of the Final Whisper.

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    Default Re: Containing a Singularity

    The ancient race produced antimatter in a completely unrelated experiment. PCs must find the antimatter's containment device and loose it close enough to the singularity for them to consume each other.

    Yes, that would probably NEVER work in actual science, but a bunch of medieval dudes with swords and crossbows won't notice that

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    Default Re: Containing a Singularity

    Gravity is a really, really, really weak force. But how about the object have an electromagnetic pull? Electromagnetism is a really powerful force. Unfortunately, almost everything in nature is balanced with its protons and neutrons, so it wouldn't really have much to "grip" at.

    Unless you can ionize a large area by removing its eletrons are adding electrons to it, building a powerful static charge.

    However, since lightning and polar lights don't cause weird reactions from the landscape, there' probably still not enough potential.
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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Containing a Singularity

    If it's a charged black hole (either a Reissner-Nordstrom or Kerr-Newman) then you might be able to use electromagnetic containment (like what's postulated for use to contain antimatter) to keep it in one place without eating anything.
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    Default Re: Containing a Singularity

    @Cealocanth
    Quote Originally Posted by Reltzik View Post
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    First, let's break down how dangerous a gravitational singularity is, and what happens if Our Heroes don't Do Something.

    A black hole with an event horizon of even a nanometer is a serious threat to the planet, because no force in existence is capable of preventing any matter that passes into that event horizon from compressing down into a single, 0-dimensional point. Not electromagnetic bonds or repulsion between distinct protons and electrons, nor even the nuclear forces that keep subatomic particles from spacially overlapping.... and every atom ever discovered or produced has been considerably less than a nanometer in size, as measured by the diameter of its electrons' orbits. (Diameter of the nucleus might be a better measure for this threat, and it's several orders of magnitude smaller, but I'll stick with this.)

    Outside of the event horizon (er, let's call it a few times the event horizon to be safe), we don't notice the black hole at all. It's actually not all that massive, and doesn't generate that much gravity; what's special about it is that it's packed so tight that the gravity it DOES generate reaches a critical threshhold before we reach the boundary of its mass. The problem isn't standing near the black hole; it's coming in CONTACT with it (or, at least, its event horizon). And I mean actual contact. What we normally think of touching something is actually nothing of the sort. When we, say, pick up a glass, the molecules in the glass aren't actually coming into physical contact with our hand. That's the stuff of nuclear fusion. No, what's happening is that the electrons in both sets of molecules are mutually repulsing each other, preventing actual contact from being made and actually holding the molecules quite a bit more than atomic distances from each other. It's like you have a "don't touch me" force field repelling everything away from you... but only a few nanometers away from you.

    Except the black hole doesn't output this electromagnetic force, and thus isn't affected. It bump into atoms, and something oh-so-much worse than fusion takes place. Decent people don't think about these kinds of things.

    If this black hole were free-falling (uncontained), then nothing would stop it from reaching the center of relative gravity (the Earth's core). Nothing at ALL. The good news is that it would have very little gravitational pull, so it wouldn't actually be drawing things into it, or significantly affecting but anything that DID come into it would go bye-bye, adding its own mass to that of the black hole's. It would sink through the ground, absorbing and consuming the matter it came into "contact" with, producing needle-hole about a nanometer in width headed towards the earth's core. More good news: this is not a large enough hole to allow for volcanic outflow or even trigger earthquakes.

    So it gets to the earth's core. Atoms are pressed together pretty tightly near the earth's core, so our black hole's bound to come into contact with something. Velocity causes it to shoot past the center of the earth. It probably doesn't go through the exact center of mass, because rotational velocity at the surface will give it more of a parabolic path, but it gets close enough for government work. It then shoots past the center and back out towards the earth's surface on the opposite side of the planet, the hole to China, if you will.

    Except it doesn't get there. It's been absorbing mass as it goes, and this mass had less gravitational potential energy relative to mass the closer to the Earth's core it was. By the time it reaches it's maximum "height", it's probably at least doubled in mass (I'd guess one or two orders of magnitude, rather, but couldn't begin to compute it), and most of that mass came from mantle or nickle-iron core which, if free to fall, would NOT break to the surface. The black hole never emerges, and after several oscillations where its movement is further dampened by absorbed matter, eventually stops moving (or close enough for government work) at the exact center of the Earth's core.

    Note that this is STILL not causing tidal distortions sufficient for earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, or so forth. As far as anyone at the surface is so far concerned, nothing at all has happened.

    But they're going to be concerned very soon. Oh yes.

    Pressure is extremely high at the core, with liquid or semi-liquid nickle-iron pressing in from all directions. For the black hole, this is like a duck being tube fed at massive speed without the unhappy prospect of being turned into fois gras at the end of the process. Consider any particular molecule at the core. Normally it's in a rough equilibrium of forces, with pressure from below being slightly higher than pressure from above, and this being offset by a fairly light gravitational pull downwards. But then the black hole EATS the molecules below you, and there's suddenly no pressure from below. You DROP, straight to the center of mass, actually propelled at tremendous speeds by the pressure of the molecules above... which follow you in turn. A nice arch or self-bracing support structure of some sort might stop this collapse, but no such solid structure really exists at the earth's core. The black hole consumes the entire core, as well as the liquid mantle.

    The entire Earth is now a hollow crust, kinda-braced against itself, with nothing holding it "up". Sort of the arch I was talking about earlier. Except it's nowhere near solid enough for the job. The surface disintegrates -- a bit like the trailers for that 2012 movie I never saw -- and everything collapses Inwards. It's likely proceeded by earthquakes (but NOT volcanoes, since all the magma is being sucked inwards), but I doubt the crust would last more than a minute before it disintegrated. This is probably the first, last, and only warning anyone on the surface gets, and about when we would get very, very concerned for a very brief time.

    At the end of this process, the black hole's event horizon is now a little less than 17.5 kilometers in diameter. The mass of the Earth hasn't changed, nor has its path through the solar system. It's just much, MUCH more tightly packed. Anything NOT held apart from the Earth's core by pressure (ie, physical contact) continues on its merry way unconcerned. The moon might wobble a little bit as the mass it revolves around compressed from a small but significant arc in the sky to a zero-dimensional point, but if so it is a very, very tiny wobble.

    A black hole with an event horizon one nm in radius, which started this whole mess, requires a mass of about 670 million kilograms, or roughly one tenth the mass of the Great Pyramid of Giza.

    The good news is that while a black hole that small can continue to exist in a somewhat stable manner, it cannot spontaneously form from its own mass. For that, you'd need a bit less than 3 times the mass found in our sun. Of course, you've introduced some super-tech magic to this and the black hole can be artificially formed. SEE WHAT YOU DID?

    That's the long of it. The short of it is that a black hole with the mass of one of the Giza pyramids IS a threat and Our Heroes DO need to Do Something About It.

    So what Something are we talking about?

    Job 1 is detection. As mentioned before, this thing doesn't produce significant tidal or tectonic activity until the endgame. Gravitationally, it looks like any other lump of several hundred million kilograms (think a medium-sized hill) and I doubt some Lab Coats in Generic Uber Science Place a few miles away would ever notice a blip on their meters. So instead, Our Heroes need to stum-- er, discover it through Ancient Lore or The Villain's Plans.

    Job 2 is containment. Ideally, this involves whatever existing containment has prevented it from already destroying the Earth. That failing, you need to get it contained BEFORE it falls through the ground.

    There is no Job 3. If Our Heroes fail Job 2, then Job 3 is grab your ankles, bend over, and kiss your but goodbye.

    So, to finally answer your question.... what can contain a black hole? Here's where we get to the Really Bad News. PRETTY MUCH NOTHING.

    As mentioned, the black hole doesn't get repelled from contact with molecules. It can't be "held up" on some sort of pedestal, because it would just eat the pedestal. Other things that don't work are magnets, super-glue, or blowing on it really hard. About the only thing that DOES effect it is gravity, and that's working against you. An alternate strategy might be to build a cage of some sort around it.

    A nice molecule shaped around the black hole could work, maybe some sort of carbon structure. This wouldn't keep the black hole from drawing mass in, so much as hold the mass back. The problem is that it also doesn't prevent the black hole from moving, and either slipping between the atoms of our cage molecule or consuming a few of them on the way out. Our cage might be held up by its environment; the black hole most definitely is not. It would be like holding a sieve filled with water, and expecting the fact that we're holding the sieve's handle to guarantee that the water doesn't leak out.

    So for the cage strategy to work, it must be constructed AFTER the black hole stops moving and is already at the earth's core. Now, the cage molecule could theoretically work... except that in the center of the Earth's core, with the world collapsing around you, and on the threshold of a growing event horizon, is not the ideal environment for doing finicky and precise nanoengineering. The issues of physical access alone are staggering, as is the non-trivial question of where you stand while you work. Also, if the event horizon grows past a certain point, the black hole becomes too big for our cage molecule to work, and I suspect that this will have been done already by the time that the singularity settles to rest at the core. Remember, the cage ONLY works if the black hole is NOT moving around relative to the mass around it.

    So now we have to reach into really theoretical physics, which probably will NOT be available for applied science in the next few generations. There are a few promising things here. In particular, I would suggest dark energy.

    Dark energy is a hypothesized force, or, perhaps, an overlooked element of the gravitational equation. Observations of gravitation in the universe at large haven't quite jived with our ground-based laboratory experiments, or even orbital mechanics in the solar system. It's almost as if gravity is weaker over long distances... even weaker than the inverse-square law would suggest. Dark energy is a repulsive force that explains or expresses this. If we want to be absurd and ignore the fact that dark energy only seems to kick in over long distances (intergalactic), this could hypothetically be used for antigravity... and antigravity is EXACTLY the thing needed to keep our nanoscopic black hole contained. It's extremely theoretical physics twisted into an application that utterly ignores its actual properties of scale, and we have no reason to believe that we could ever intentionally generate it in the first place, and it's STILL our best hope.

    In other words, Our Heroes need to use some of this Ancient Civilization's Magic Artifact Tech, because nothing WE invent will be ready any time soon.
    Man, I don't know if this is all kosher, but it is close enough for jazz -- by which I mean D&D. Use this stuff to inform your background on the Doomsday Device.

    On a related note, it's a fools errand to try to find "plausible" technology to contain something that can't even exist without using "implausible" means. I'd say it's best to keep as much of the hard stuff Black Boxed as you can (i.e. creating the Hole, containing the hole) and leave something impressive for the easy stuff. So, rather than an inscrutable fusion battery how about setting up an elaborate Geothermal Generator to power the whole thing.

    A better question is why did the Ancients make such a dangerous device and leave it on the planet where they live? If you want a ludicrous but impressive answer, I'd go with garbage disposal.
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    Default Re: Containing a Singularity

    Quote Originally Posted by Cealocanth View Post
    The extent of knowledge I have in this field is from reading science fiction books, mostly, so if it helps, it's the kind of singularity theoretically located within a black hole.

    Specifically, it's a below quantum particle sized gravitational singularity. It's small and unstable enough to do nothing more than cause several nasty earthquakes as well as completely destroy small landmasses such as the island it's located when it's released into the planet. A short time after it's release, it will decay.

    That's really the best I can give you. I'd be happy to hear what kind would actually do any of that, if any of you have more expertise than I.
    ALL singularities are small. That's not much of a stipulation.

    If you mean the size of the event horizon, well, that size of a singularity would vanish rapidly via hawking radiation. It would no longer exist.
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    Default Re: Containing a Singularity

    @ Reltzik

    So the Ancients have managed to spontaneously generate a tiny black hole, but with the inability to destroy or move it, they are forced to construct a "cage" of dark energy to contain it, which has been powered by a nuclear fusion based device within the cage itself.

    @ Oracle_Hunter

    That would also be an option. With as much handwaving I've done with the Ancients, it's plausible that my players would accept the simple "they figured it out, deal with it" approach. Then again, I have a physics buff and rules lawyer in the group, and the last thing I want is for him to cry foul and ruin the suspension of disbelief.

    I like Reltzik's plan, but I propose another. The Ancients have already proved their ability in the past to produce technology good enough to bend space and time that would last for several thousand years to come. Is it an option to trap the black hole in an alternate universe where it's already in the center of the earth, construct a molecule cage around it's previous location, and then fold it back into the cage of this universe, using anti-gravity based technology to keep it from moving?
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    Default Re: Containing a Singularity

    Small singularities are worse. They evaporate almost instantly via Hawking radiation, which amounts to a massive detonation. You really want a mid-sized singularity to make things easy.

    Charles Sheffield wrote a hard-scifi book about ships powered by singularities, which were used as batteries rather than burning them as fuel sources. Basically you charged one, levitated it in a magnetic field, then used the field to spin it up to store energy (like a massive flywheel). You could then send a beam of photons or whatever along a grazing line near the black hole to siphon energy out (this is basically a property of the frame-dragging effect around a black hole's ergosphere).

    So electric charge + magnets. You could do it in the 18th century, except you probably need superconductors to get the magnetic levitation to work. Still, thats technology we have now even if we don't have anything quite of that scale.

    The reason we don't do this is where the heck would we get a singularity from?

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    Default Re: Containing a Singularity

    Quote Originally Posted by Cealocanth View Post
    @ Oracle_Hunter

    That would also be an option. With as much handwaving I've done with the Ancients, it's plausible that my players would accept the simple "they figured it out, deal with it" approach. Then again, I have a physics buff and rules lawyer in the group, and the last thing I want is for him to cry foul and ruin the suspension of disbelief.

    I like Reltzik's plan, but I propose another. The Ancients have already proved their ability in the past to produce technology good enough to bend space and time that would last for several thousand years to come. Is it an option to trap the black hole in an alternate universe where it's already in the center of the earth, construct a molecule cage around it's previous location, and then fold it back into the cage of this universe, using anti-gravity based technology to keep it from moving?
    So... you're worried about your Physics Buff and Rules Lawyer shouting down the containment system used on your (impossible) Quantum Singularity, even though they didn't squawk when you introduced the Ancients' ability to manipulate Space/Time?

    Yeah, methinks you're worrying too much, or at least in the wrong area. If the Ancients can manipulate Space/Time durably then all they had to do was form a pocket dimension where the rules of physics permit stable Quantum Singularities. Then put a standard Gate between the two planes; making sure the Singularity's Gate is far outside the Event Horizon.

    Two birds, one stone.

    Also: If you're in 3.x then I'm pretty sure Genesis can do exactly that.
    Last edited by Oracle_Hunter; 2012-09-19 at 11:59 PM.
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    Default Re: Containing a Singularity

    Okay, I took this to some experts (well, amateurs that were still more expert than me), and my numbers were bogus as I flubbed a bunch of unit conversions and didn't account for Hawking radiation.

    The giza-pyramid black hole actually had an event horizon about an attometer accross, or about one thousandth the width of a proton's charge radius. A black hole with a nanometer event horizon would have a mass about a thousandth that of the earth. At a range of about a km, it would exert more gravitational pull than the earth itself.

    I'm told that the important threshold is about 373 million tons, or 338 billion kilograms. That's about 50 great pyramids of Giza, or a small mountain. Less than this, and the black hole is pumping out Hawking radiation so powerfully as to prevent anything from falling into it (though I think a high-pressure exterior environment might change those rules a bit). More than this, and gravitational pull is sufficient to overcome radiation output, and the black hole can suck stuff in. At a range of 1 km, a 338 billion kilogram black hole is causing about 2 percent of one percent of one percent of the Earth's gravitational pull. This black hole would have an event horizon of much less than 1 nm, and I'm not sure that it would actually succeed at eating the Earth.

    A black hole battery makes a lot of sense, if you weren't worried about a fail-safe mode. If you had some way of throwing some mass (which you would need to make the damn thing in the first place) in despite the radiation, then it provides 100% conversion of that mass to energy, albeit at a very slow pace. (Of course, a little mass gives you a LOT of energy.) The main challenge is holding that mass in place, which is doable if the battery has an EM charge. It can be held in place by very, very, (very) powerful magnets. You might even use energy gathered from the black hole to hold it in place. The amount of energy given off is pretty cataclysmic

    For extra fun, say that it has either a negative charge, meaning that any lightning spells will bounce off of it, or a positive charge, which will draw lightning straight into it.

    My initial estimate of 670,000,000 kg would "evaporate" through Hawking radiation in about 800 years. In the meantime, it's outputting lots of energy through Hawking radiation (about 5 Hiroshima bombs a minute), which can be harnessed to power a wide variety of Ancient Devices, or unleash a cataclysm in the wrong hands. Change it to the full great pyramid of Giza (about ten times as massive), and you've got an evaporation time of 800,000 years but an energy output of only a Hiroshima bomb every 2 minutes.

    (Those are average figures. As you can see, less energy is output the more mass the singularity has, but it has more energy to output in total. Most of its energy output is "rear-loaded", and most energy is released near the end of the black hole's decay.

    Enjoy!
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    Default Re: Containing a Singularity

    Quote Originally Posted by Reltzik View Post
    Okay, I took this to some experts (well, amateurs that were still more expert than me), and my numbers were bogus as I flubbed a bunch of unit conversions and didn't account for Hawking radiation.

    The giza-pyramid black hole actually had an event horizon about an attometer accross, or about one thousandth the width of a proton's charge radius. A black hole with a nanometer event horizon would have a mass about a thousandth that of the earth. At a range of about a km, it would exert more gravitational pull than the earth itself.

    I'm told that the important threshold is about 373 million tons, or 338 billion kilograms. That's about 50 great pyramids of Giza, or a small mountain. Less than this, and the black hole is pumping out Hawking radiation so powerfully as to prevent anything from falling into it (though I think a high-pressure exterior environment might change those rules a bit). More than this, and gravitational pull is sufficient to overcome radiation output, and the black hole can suck stuff in. At a range of 1 km, a 338 billion kilogram black hole is causing about 2 percent of one percent of one percent of the Earth's gravitational pull. This black hole would have an event horizon of much less than 1 nm, and I'm not sure that it would actually succeed at eating the Earth.
    Well, here's the possible outcomes for this black hole.

    1. It is stored such that it does not have access to anything(this requires gravity manipulation. Reverse Gravity should suffice). In addition, you'll want this to be hard vacuum, since consuming the atmosphere is probably undesirable. In this case, it's already vanished due to hawking radiation.

    2. The storage containment has failed. It falls through the earth, with gradually dampening oscillations through the world's core, gaining more and more matter as it falls. Eventually ends in destruction of the world, exact time until destruction depending on initial size and density of the world.

    3. The containment in #1 exist, but in addition, there's something occasionally feeding it material. This will generally require fairly precise control, as anyone toying with a black hole is going to want to maintain strict limits on the density.
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    Default Re: Containing a Singularity

    4: The black hole was initially much larger, and has now decayed to this size because no one was feeding it. This could be a problem, as the further it decays, the more powerful its energy output. That energy output may well come to exceed the containment system's geriatric tolerances, which would be a Bad Thing regardless of whether it's still big enough to eat the Earth.

    In any case, something producing as much gravitational pull as a the earth itself (as felt from, say, 500 feet away) suggests some very INTERESTING battlefields.
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    Default Re: Containing a Singularity

    Quote Originally Posted by Reltzik View Post
    4: The black hole was initially much larger, and has now decayed to this size because no one was feeding it. This could be a problem, as the further it decays, the more powerful its energy output. That energy output may well come to exceed the containment system's geriatric tolerances, which would be a Bad Thing regardless of whether it's still big enough to eat the Earth.

    In any case, something producing as much gravitational pull as a the earth itself (as felt from, say, 500 feet away) suggests some very INTERESTING battlefields.
    Well, if it was originally much larger, then you've got other concerns to worry about as well. Interactions get very complicated. You can do it, definitely, but it requires some careful thinking to establish the parameters of this.
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    Default Re: Containing a Singularity

    These things evaporate over a very very long time (note the 800000 years mentioned in an above post), so its hard to see how one could significantly decay in a mere thousand years or whatever since the fall of a civilization.

    That is, unless the thing was intentionally being kept marginal for the energy generation effects. Lets say we have some rate of influx of matter that was being maintained by the civilization, and their black hole was exactly the size such that it was in equilibrium given that flux of matter. What sort of flux of matter might be reasonable, and then how long after that flux is shut down would one have until detonation?

    If we say that they dumped in 1kg of material every hour, for instance, then this is power output of 2.5 x 10^13 W, more than enough to run a civilization I'd think but lets say they had some big projects they wanted to fuel (they were building black holes, so of course they would).

    This power output is attained for a mass of 3.8 x 10^9 kg. Without fuel, this black hole has a lifespan of 171000 years. The less energy they want from the thing, the more stable it gets. Almost all of the exciting stuff will happen at the end of that time period too.

    Of course you could fiddle with these numbers by changing G,c,or hbar in your game universe. If you want less astronomical numbers, I think you basically want to make the speed of light smaller. This means that less energy is pulled out per mass consumed by the black hole, so the civilization could have been feeding it at a much higher rate (which also implies a black hole closer to catastrophic evaporation).

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    Default Re: Containing a Singularity

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    These things evaporate over a very very long time (note the 800000 years mentioned in an above post), so its hard to see how one could significantly decay in a mere thousand years or whatever since the fall of a civilization.
    This entirely depends on the size. I had assumed we were still talking about ridiculously mini singularities.

    The smallest ones vanish in time-frames that can only be described as instant in real world time. And, even if it hasn't vanished...if it's sunk below the level where hawking radiation exceeds it's gravity, it might as well have.

    That is, unless the thing was intentionally being kept marginal for the energy generation effects. Lets say we have some rate of influx of matter that was being maintained by the civilization, and their black hole was exactly the size such that it was in equilibrium given that flux of matter. What sort of flux of matter might be reasonable, and then how long after that flux is shut down would one have until detonation?
    Precisely. Insert matter, receive energy. There's a use for that. It's a logical device, but the amount of matter used would be ridiculously small. I'd probably get a back of the envelope idea of the kind of energy I'd expect this civ to be using, and work from there. I've been assuming that this is some kind of ancient super-civ of pretty notable proportions. Like, ringworld or dyson sphere level stuff...this is pretty firmly in sci-fi level tech realms.

    Time from ceasing of flux to detonation all depends on the size of the black hole...the further from detonation you keep it, the less efficient it is at producing energy, but the longer it has until it goes boom.

    If we say that they dumped in 1kg of material every hour, for instance, then this is power output of 2.5 x 10^13 W, more than enough to run a civilization I'd think but lets say they had some big projects they wanted to fuel (they were building black holes, so of course they would).
    IIRC, maint levels for singularities in terms of matter are pretty small, but I don't know the math off the top of my head.
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    Default Re: Containing a Singularity

    Quote Originally Posted by Tyndmyr View Post
    IIRC, maint levels for singularities in terms of matter are pretty small, but I don't know the math off the top of my head.
    Here's the final result in terms of the total desired power output, with all the physical constants taken to be their real-world values and the timescales chosen to be somewhat intuitive.

    Power output: P in watts
    Total mass: M in kg
    Mass influx: Q in kg/hour
    Time to explosion: t in years

    M = [1.8 x 10^16 kg W^1/2] / sqrt(P)
    Q = 4 x 10^-14 kg/(hour W) * P
    t = [1.7 x 10^25 yr W^(3/2)] / P^(3/2)

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    Re: Containing a Singularity

    Given that magic routinely violates creation of energy and matter, this would be a trivial matter for a society with slightly futuristic technology within a magical world.

    You could propose an exotic substance that holds space and time almost inviolate within its boundaries. The ancients built a small box out of this precious substance. The singularity is then localized. I don't know if such a substance fits your hard sci fi constraints, however.

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    Default Re: Containing a Singularity

    So, what happens when you feed a Singularity Quintessence?
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    Default Re: Containing a Singularity

    If you feed it Holy Water does it acquire the [Good] descriptor ?
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    Default Re: Containing a Singularity

    Here's a weird idea that is probably totally inconsistent with the OP's plot. What if this singularity is actually the source of all magic on the world? That would more or less require it to operate at the massive levels of power that it pretty much is going to operate at anyhow. Granted, giving someone a Light spell versus a Create Water spell have very different energy requirements when thought of in this way! It'd probably be best to posit that all the Creation spells are actually tapping the base mass of the thing and speeding its decay, whereas stuff that just uses energy pulls from the output. There's certainly going to be enough mass in there to feed any number of walls of iron or whatnot that your campaign world is likely to see.

    Edit: With regards to the quintessence question, I think it'd be interesting to have a singularity actually produce minute amounts of quintessence as non-local effects fold space from deeper within the event horizon into exterior space. After all, an object near the event horizon is going to behave very much like an object dunked in quintessence - its personal time is basically frozen with respect to the rest of the universe.
    Last edited by NichG; 2012-09-20 at 02:34 PM.

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