Black and White

by Meghashri Dalvi © 2002


The Wise Man rose customarily as the King entered. But it was the King who bowed to the Wise Man. A tradition of honoring the Knowledge.

" Please, take a seat," the king offered. " We are all waiting to hear your new discovery."

The Wise man smiled.

The courtroom was full. As it was several times before. When the Wise Man had talked about their planet and their energy-supplying star and the possibility of space travel.

Or when He had synthesized sweet mushrooms and demonstrated plastic surgery.

Or when He had explained imaginary numbers and put forward the theory of sub-atomic particles.

The citizens savored such occasions equally as the Wise man himself.

" Please, " the king requested.

The Wise Man began. In a deep, slow voice suiting to his hundred-odd years, he spoke. The audience listened silently.

A young student in a far corner was more absorbed. He strained his neck for a clearer view. His eyes concentrated on the Wise Man, so much, that he nearly squinted.

" The question has been at the back of my mind for a long time. " The Wise Man was elaborating. " The expanding universe indicated by the violet shift meant something. I wanted to find out what it was. Then a few days back, as I sat with all my collected data, it realized on me.

" Imagine being at the very edge of a bucket full of water. Now if water is sucked from the centre of the bucket, to you it will appear as if all nearby droplets are drifting away from you. Mind you, they appear to move away, but in reality, they are moving towards the centre. The sucking force experienced by you will be much less than the force on the particles that are closer to the center. This all makes the surface ripples on water look strained or stretched. I hope it is clear..."

" It is, " the King assured.

" Such a phenomenon is happening to our universe! Right now! All the time! " The Wise man announced dramatically. " A great sucker force at the centre is constantly pulling the matter towards it. Our planetary system is at the edge of our galaxy and if you take the analogy that far..."

The bewildered student was rapidly thinking- if the pull was really that great to hurl the stars towards it, then it must be the strongest kind of force ever! What would be its nature then? What has created it? What controls it? When all this must have begun? How this must have begun?

" Then it must follow that there is this big hole at the centre of our universe." The Wise Man was painstakingly elaborating. " The pull of this hole is so great, I mean so great, that it even pulls light inside it. And once inside, the force stops everything from coming out - including light."

" When we call something black, we mean that the thing does not reflect any colour, any light. In the same sense, I call this strange and powerful hole as Black Hole!"

Black Hole! The student gasped. A hole that swallows everything! Matter, space, and even light! But wait! If matter cannot be totally destroyed like this, then where does this sucked matter actually go?


" Interesting! " commented the Big Blob. Its deep blue eyes, matching neatly with pale blue body, held surprise.

The Small Blob, still shining in the glory of youth, acknowledged nervously.

" Splendid work, I must say! " The senior remarked again.

" That should solve the mystery of universe forever, should it not? " The junior asked coyly.

" Oh! Life is not that simple." The senior furrowed its bow-like structure.

" But isn't that the greatest mystery ever? And isn't it solved completely with my work? "

" Well, the mystery is still not solved, my dear."

" Why sir, I in fact - "

" No. It would be premature to publish your results. "

" Sir, when we started research in this direction, you had promised me universal fame. Why not publish the work now? "

" Your fame would eventually come. " The Big Blob said solemnly.

"But sir, my reasoning is logical. Pink shift is firmly established. Data collected over centuries confirm it. Expanding universe is natural phenomenon. And - "

" Patience, my child. A scientist does not spill facts like that.

" But they are the facts. Aren't they?"" Now the voice had a distinct hint of irritation.

" Yes. But they don't support your theory. "

"They do! Look here; imagine a small bucket full of water. At the centre of this bucket, there is a hole. From this hole water is continuously seeping into the bucket. Now this action will create steady ripples in the bucket moving from the centre to the edge. "

" And? "

" Imagine us living very near to the centre of the bucket. To us it will appear that the waves- which are actually the ripples- and the droplets on them are moving away from us. If we try to collect information about more droplets that are nearer to the edge of the bucket, they will also appear to be moving away. "

"So? "

" Let us take that picture and apply to our universe. It then becomes very clear why the stars are moving away from us and why our universe is expanding."

"You say that there is a hole at the centre of our universe and the hole is supplying matter to us all the time? "

"Yes. Yes. "

" And what makes the matter pop from this hole? "

" Well, as you know, matter cannot be destroyed or created - "

" That is the whole point!" the bigger, older body quivered. " You have not clarified that."

" That did baffle me at first."


"But I think that a theory can be put forward."


"Like a white hole."

"White hole?"

"Yes. A hole which sources all the time like our white energy star."

"Huh. I would have agreed. But tell me, where would so much matter come from?"

"From another universe, perhaps!"

x x x

Read more Flash Fiction? or Back to the Front Page?