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From: Peter Stephenson <pws@ifh.de>
Subject: (urth) black holes + origins
Date: Fri, 03 Jul 1998 12:28:01 +0200

I suspect prion's right about what a real black hole would do to the
sun.  I don't necessarily think that matters to Wolfe.  (He doesn't
necessarily believe in wooden spaceships with sails, either.)

The following was probably not known to Wolfe, but I find it
interesting anyway --- it show the way his worlds suck in all known
and unknown facts about the universe and spit them out completely
warped.  (Warp factor 10, in fact.)

The growth of black holes is related to thermodynamics:  their
entropy (loosely, disorder, but it is a well defined physically
quantity, something that often gets ignored in general discussions) is
proportional to their area.  So their behaviour seems to be related to
the arrow of time; at least, the growth of disorder is the only
physical quantity definitely related to that as far as seems to be
known at present.  Now, there's a speculation by Hawking that black
holes are in fact white holes!  Black holes radiate by Haking
radiation:  in a universe in equilibrium, they radiate as much as they
suck in; only in our temporally lop-sided do they seem to go only one

So the relevant point is just that Severian's journey back in time to
be the Conciliator, and the apparent non-linear time associated with
the white fountain, actually seem to be vaguely related to the
physics.  Which is typically weird.

Origins of the torturers' guild:  I had them mentally associated with
some of the orders of flagellants who roamed Europe in the middle
ages:  there was an article about the remnants of one in the Italian
magazine `Medievo' a couple of months ago; they were hooded, but wore
white, not fuligin.  These people were certainly `seekers after truth
and penitence', but it was their own, not other people's.  The
ambiguity of that pharse has always tickled me.


*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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