#1: A mind-blowing explanation of the speed of light | Top 10 2019

We have arrived: Big Think's most popular video of 2019 tells us light exists outside of time.

  • Taking the #1 spot on Big Think's 2019 top 10 countdown, NASA's Michelle Thaller reminds us the only things that travel at the speed of light are photons.
  • Nothing with any mass at all can travel at the speed of light because as it gets closer and closer to the speed of light, its mass increases. And if it were actually traveling at the speed of light, it would have an infinite mass.
  • Light does not experience space or time. It's not just a speed going through something. All of the universe shifts around this constant, the speed of light. Time and space itself stop when you go that speed.
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#5: Is the universe a hologram? The strange physics of black holes | Top 10 2019

Next on Big Think's 2019 top 10 countdown, black holes may give us a glimpse of the underlying nature of reality.

  • Big Think's fifth most popular video of 2019 explains that, because energy cannot be destroyed, only transformed, some argue that information — arguably a form of energy — cannot be destroyed either. So then, what happens to information when it is absorbed into a black hole? Scientists don't know for certain, but some posit that it may be possible for it to leak away from the black hole over time.
  • Black holes may hold information in a two-dimensional manner similar to a hologram, which take on three dimensions when light is shone through them. Some theorize that the underlying nature of reality can be glimpsed through black holes — that all the information about the entire universe is somehow held on a two-dimensional space of something.
  • To better understand how black holes work, as well as the elements surrounding them, we may need a level of physics to be developed.
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Moon mission 2.0: What humanity will learn by going back to the Moon

Going back to the moon will give us fresh insights about the creation of our solar system.

  • July 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the moon landing — Apollo 11.
  • Today, we have a strong scientific case for returning to the moon: the original rock samples that we took from the moon revolutionized our view of how Earth and the solar system formed. We could now glean even more insights with fresh, nonchemically-altered samples.
  • NASA plans to send humans to a crater in the South Pole of the moon because it's safer there, and would allow for better communications with people back on Earth.

That black hole photo: How event horizons bend time, space, and light

The recent photo of a black hole is something extraordinary. Here's why.

  • Black holes are usually surrounded by disks of very, very bright, very hot material. And that's how we find them.
  • Black holes themselves give off no radiation at all. Any light gets absorbed into the black hole — all forms of light, from gamma rays to radio waves.
  • A black hole's gravity is so strong it actually bends space itself. What does this mean? There's no way to get out of the black hole — out of the event horizon — because space and time themselves are bent into the black hole.

Cosmic death beams: Understanding gamma ray bursts

Gigantic explosions of light are reverberating across the universe.

  • In a single night, astronomers are able to detect about 20 supernova explosions.
  • Gamma ray bursts are even more energetic — in a single flash of radiation they can outshine the rest of the known universe.
  • If a gamma burst went off anywhere in our galaxy, it could be disastrous. The radiation would be beamed far and wide. However, as long as you're not in the way of one of those beams — or very far the site of the initial explosion — then you're probably safe.