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From: mary whalen <marewhalen@yahoo.com>
Subject: (urth) Black hole vs. wormhole
Date: Thu, 2 Jul 1998 19:52:03 

This is Sean Whalen (prion).

In looking through the archives, I've seen much discussion about the
black hole at the center of Urth's sun which is causing it to die

However, if a black hole really was at the center of the sun, or even
touched it, it would absorb all the material of the sun in seconds,
growing a small bit (relatively) in the process.  Urth would be
circling a black hole, not a red dwarf.

I have always assumed that it is a wormhole at the center of the sun. 
It is at least twice refered to as "the worm at the heart of the sun."
 I think this is partly a pun by Wolfe, as well as representing the
dragon (called worm by the Norse) Nidhogg(r), who gnaws at the roots
of Yggdrasil, the World Ash.

A wormhole is not a physical object, it is a four-dimensional
structure of space-time that has the physical form of a spherical hole
in the universe, leading to another place.  The mass at the center of
the sun would fall into the hole and lose mass, which is what the
inhabitants of Urth see.  The more mass that falls into the hole, the
smaller the sun gets.  With less mass it fuses less of its atoms and
produces less energy, which is why it is red (red is the least
energetic form of visible light).  It would, however, take many
millennia for the sun to become consumed entirely.  That's much longer
than the few seconds it would take for a black hole of any size to
consume it, however, but VERY much shorter than the billions of years
it would exist as a fusing star otherwise, and the trillions upon
trillions of years it would have, after it stopped fusing, as a white

This also relates to some comments I remember about the "black hole"
possibly being the other side of the white fountain that Severian
inserts into the old sun.  It was theorized by someone that it's like
a time loop, the hole exists because he will create the fountain and
vice versa.

This theory cannot be so because if it were so, the fountain would
just plug the hole and the sun would remain a small red star.  The
fountain has to give more than is taken for the old sun to grow larger
and gain back the energy.

But, more than this, the white fountain would be unable to "plug" a
black hole at all.  A black hole is a physical object with mass and
size.  The fountain puts out energy and matter, and is physical as
well.  You can't plug an object with another object.  The black hole
would just be fed more by the matter coming from the fountain.  And as
I said earlier, the black hole would have consumed the sun seconds
after they touched anyway!

A wormhole, however, could be "plugged."  The white fountain would
send all the matter the hole would be able to take into it, and leave
enough left over to continually be replenishing the sun as well.  It
would not just stop dying, but begin growing.

I think I should also comment here about what Baldanders said about
black hole, white fountains, and energy flow between dimensional levels.

Baldanders is the only character in the books who calls the thing at
the sun's center a black hole.  He also says it has taken him a
(presumably long) lifetime of study to figure this out.  However, he
doesn't really have a very powerful technology for matters like this
(he's mainly a biologist) and is wrong, I believe.

However, he's right about the flow of energy between universes (which
he may have learned from the Hierodules, who are in a position to know
about such things, if asked).  Even though li'l Tzadkiel tells
Severian that the Brook Madregot flows from the higher state of Yesod
to Briah, this is the natural outlet of energy, just like all matter. 
However, just as Baldanders says, when a black hole forms in a
universe, it sends matter into a higher universe as a white fountain.

This is just like a chemical reaction.  The normal state is for
entropy to cause matter to go into a lower state (like the Brook
does), but if there is enough matter concentrated into one place, a
reaction occurs releasing more heat, increasing the energy level. 
Just as you must apply concentrated heat of a certain and specific
amount to an object to cause it to burn, releasing energy as fire, you
must concentrate a certain amount of matter into a space to cause this
matter to gain a level.

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