Black Hole Starships

So today we are looking at using small, artificially
created black holes as a way of powering interstellar spaceships and we started on that last week
by discussing the properties of micro-black holes and Hawking Radiation.
If you haven’t seen that video, unless you happen to be very familiar with how Hawking
Radiation works, you might want to click the video link on the screen and catch that first.
Like all the video links on this channel, doing so will just pause this video and open
that video in a new window. But the thirty second summary of that video
is that smaller black holes emit a lot of energy, which we call Hawking Radiation, and
the power released by a given black hole roughly scales up inverse-square with its mass.
Meaning that if you have two black holes, one twice as heavy as the other, the bigger
one gives off only a quarter of the power the smaller ones does, and since they are
emitting this energy by evaporating their own mass till they run out, the bigger one
will live eight times long, since it emits only a quarter the energy and has twice as
much mass to fuel that emission. Similarly a black of only a tenth of the mass will emit
a hundred times the power, but with only a tenth the mass will run of fuel a thousand
times quicker. I should note that this is just an approximation,
not an exact calculation. Since the black holes we can detect are so massive they don’t
put out enough Hawking Radiation to power a tiny LED light we couldn’t measure their
Hawking Radiation if they were even as close as our own Moon, let alone hundreds of light
years away. So we have only theoretical models and those
don’t actually exactly follow the inverse-square mass relationship I just mentioned anyway,
and there are competing models. So today I’ll specifically be using the values from Westmoreland
and Crane’s 2009 paper originally discussing Black Hole Starships, since it is the one
you will most likely hear referenced if you decide to do some more personal research on
this subject, and a link to that paper is included in the video description below.
That said, the core concept for the ship then is pretty straight-forward. You make a small
black hole, one with a mass somewhere between an aircraft carrier and a small fleet of oil
supertankers. Once you have a black hole of that size you have an object emitting a huge
amount of power, the ones we’ll be looking at today emit power somewhere between a percent
or so of what the Sun hits the Earth with to several times what the sun hits the Earth
with. That figure incidentally is usually given
as a couple hundred petawatts, and a petawatt is a million gigawatts, where most big nuclear
reactors and hydroelectric dams produce about a gigawatt, so Earth’s solar power supply
is on an order of a hundred million times larger than our biggest power plants produce
and the black holes we’re looking at today produce power comparable to that, millions
to billions of times more powerful than our largest power plants.
I’ve mentioned in the past that the concept of an ‘unarmed spaceship’ is an oxymoron,
that the sci-fi staple of an unarmed freighter getting attacked just isn’t plausible, and
this is another example of that. The sheer power output of any interstellar spaceship
is truly immense, and a petawatt is the equivalent power output of 16 Hiroshima nuclear bombs
going off every second. The ships we’ll be talking about today operate
anywhere between 1 petawatt to several thousand petawatts. So even the lowest powered of these
ships, even if you could only effectively direct 1% of that output as a weapon, could
blast a large city into rubble every few minutes, while the higher power versions operating
at highest efficiency could effectively wreak havoc as though they had a machine gun that
shot Hydrogen bombs. That’s without even directly weaponizing a black hole either,
which we’ll discuss near the end of the video, that’s simple recognition that if
you have that much power you can do a lot of damage.
Now that power is omnidirectional in its output when emitted, same as a star, and you can
generate thrust by putting a mirror up on one side, so light flying out in the wrong
direction reflects back in the right direction and the radiation is no longer omnidirectional.
You can do even better with a parabolic dish. That’s your simplest black hole drive, conceptually
anyway, a black hole with an attached parabolic dish. You stick the rest of your ship on the
other side of the dish, and it turns out black holes in around the megaton range with attached
ships of similar mass can pull off accelerations and maximum speeds that can get you from one
star to a neighboring one is less than a human lifetime and let you wander around solar systems,
even the deeper darker outer zones, in timelines of months.
In the case of Black Hole Ships, the key figure, if things are running very efficiently, is
that you get one-gee of acceleration on a one megaton total mass ship for every 3000
petawatts of power you have. As huge as the power output sounds, it still
isn’t terribly impressive when it comes to shoving things up to the speed of light.
The table I’m bringing up is an extraction of the calculated power outputs, in petawatts,
of various black holes by their mass in megatons that was discussed in Westmoreland and Crane’s
2009 paper. I’ve gone ahead and added to that the Power
to Mass ratio, as well as what the acceleration, in gees, of a spaceship would be that had
equal mass of black hole to the ship and its cargo. So a two megaton ship would be half
black hole by mass and half ship and cargo. Lastly I’ve added in a column for how long
it would take for that ship to get to just 1% of light speed. Which I picked strictly
to be able to avoid relativistic effects, since its minimal at that point. At 1% of
the speed of light your clocks will lose only a few seconds a day in terms of time dilation
and good-old fashioned Newtonian equations for velocity and kinetic energy would only
be inaccurate with high precision measurements. Now that would imply an obvious preference,
you want the lightest black hole since it gives the best acceleration, and sure you
don’t want eight-and-a-half gees, but just as we could almost double that acceleration
if we could strip the ship mass down to near zero besides the black hole, we can slow it
down by adding more mass. The problem is, as I’ve mentioned, that
small black holes don’t live long and the smaller they are, the shorter their life.
So the last column is the approximate rounded lifetimes of the black holes as listed in
the original paper. So unless you can find some way to refuel your black hole, by dumping
more mass into it for instance, these smallest black holes won’t last long enough to get
you to your destination. As they put out energy they lose mass, which causes them to emit
energy even faster, and lose mass faster, until eventually they are so small and high
powered that they essentially explode. So if your black isn’t massive enough to
survive your trip you eventually need to jettison it and now you have no power source to slow
back down with when you reach your destination. Which isn’t necessarily a problem, we discussed
in the Interstellar Colonization video some of the tricks you can use to slow a spaceship
down without using fuel. One of those is the Bussard Ramjet, a concept for a spaceship
that ran by magnetically sucking in interstellar hydrogen gas and ramming it down the axis
of the ship to produce fusion and thrust. This concept turns out not to work because
when we could run the calculations better we found that all that gas, which is essentially
stationary to interstellar space, would slow the ship down more by being absorbed then
it would produce. Which was unfortunate but had the silver lining that even though you
can’t accelerate with it, you can use it to slow down for free.
So if you have a short-lived black hole accelerate your ship up to cruising speed you could then
slow down at your destination this way, and power yourself during the trip more conventionally
with a nuclear reactor, fusion if you have that, or otherwise classic fission, as life
support is only a tiny fraction of the energy budget for an interstellar trip at relativistic
speeds. Of course another possible use of that magnetic
ramscoop method might be to suck in matter and jam it into your black hole to refuel
it. This doesn’t give you infinite acceleration, since eventually you will reach a speed where
even the near-total conversion of mass-to-energy by that black hole won’t match the lost
momentum of sucking in that relatively slow gas, but it gets you a very high speed and
lets you keep your black hole. But refueling a black hole is easier said than done and
the smaller the black hole, the harder the refueling.
I mentioned in the last video that refueling a small black hole is much harder than making
one in the first place. In that we suggested the best way to make one would probably be
with tons of lasers all pumping energy into the exact same place at the same time, a place
much smaller than the nucleus of an atom. This concept is called a Kugelblitz black
hole, Kugelblitz just being ‘ball lightning’ in German, since you a making a tiny little
ball of light. Light, being made of photons, doesn’t have
a problem being squeezed together like normal matter does so it’s easier to make black
holes out of. A kugelbltiz black hole is hard to do simply because it requires immense energy
and precision. If you try to do it with normal matter instead,
like interstellar hydrogen, you are trying to jam materials together to pressures and
temperatures far beyond what is necessary for fusion it’s very improbable we’d find
a way to do that especially without spending more energy than we put in. Same problem,
you can’t refuel a black hole on your ship with lasers since you’d burn more energy
up making those lasers than you’d get out of it. And the smaller the black hole the
harder it is to do, with normal matter, since you are trying to squish that matter into
an even smaller spot and fighting against even higher power output resisting that matter
input. The analogy I used last time was that it was
like trying to shove a beachball down the nozzle of a firehose that’s turned on. Making
them, the kugelblitz way, is essentially the process of having a massive swarm of power
collectors that fire lasers with high precision at one spot at one moment, allowing you to
use a star as a black hole generator for spaceships. That requires ludicrous levels of precision
and vastly huge solar collectors but that doesn’t appear to break any known laws of
physics, refueling with random hydrogen probably does, so midtrip refueling is probably not
an option. We also have the problem that black holes
emit very high powered particles, like gamma rays, making them very hard to reflect the
power from, so you can’t just wrap a black hole with a highly reflective material to
bounce the emission back in to the black hole to be reabsorbed.
At this time we lack any materials that acts as good mirrors to gamma radiation. If we
did have one it would make things a lot easier since you could create a throttle that let
you bounce some of the emitted energy back into the black hole, decreasing its net power
output and extending its life, when you wanted to do so.
Also without anything that can reflect gamma radiation you have to absorb all that gamma
radiation as it emerges from the black hole and let it heat up a material to just below
its melting temperature. So you place a sphere, or hemisphere, around the black hole. It glows
red hot and emits normal light, which can be reflected by a parabolic dish. I’ll refer
to this as an absorption shell. Unfortunately the more power you have, the
bigger your absorption shell needs to be. Tungsten, the element with the highest known
melting temperature, about 3700 Kelvin, can radiate about ten megawatts per square meter
without melting. Twenty since it can emit from both sides.
That still means that you need about 50 million square meters of the stuff for every petawatt
of power you want to absorb. Now the good news is there are some new alloys with even
higher melting points than Tungsten, and blackbody radiation goes with the fourth power of temperature
in Kelvin, so if we found an alloy that had twice the melting point of Tungsten it could
radiate 16 times as much power without melting. But even then you’d still need a few square
kilometers of absorption shell to handle all that energy. Now these are massive ships weighing
at least hundreds of thousands of tons if not millions of tons, so you can get away
with absorption shells that big, especially since the shell needn’t be terribly thick.
However that raises yet another problem, and that is how you can keep the black hole tied
to the ship. The black hole is emitting its energy omnidirectionally, so it’s not accelerating
itself at all, and your ship will just fly off leaving the black hole behind. You can
hardly attach a rope to the black hole since it is smaller than an atom and will flat out
shred anything it touches even if it didn’t melt it apart first.
Now a number of methods are possible, such as giving the black hole an electric charge
and binding it to the absorption shell that way. The absorption shell can be leashed to
the ship conventionally by some struts connecting it to the parabolic dish. That may or may
not work, but to prove it is possible, the conceptually easiest is just to use the black
hole’s own gravity to hold on to the absorption shell while it’s radiation pushes it away.
This usually known as a gravity tractor, and it’s a lot like the Statites or Shkadov
thruster we’ve discussed in the past. Something hangs above a radiant object, pushed away
by that radiation, but pulled on by its gravity. The hard part about doing this with a black
hole, a small black hole, is that they don’t actually have that much gravity but do have
an awful lot of power output, so getting close enough to the black hole to be gravitationally
bound to it means you are sucking up even more radiation. Just as an example, for a
one megaton black hole, the distance at which it pulls someone with the same force as Earth
pulls on you is about an inch. Meaning you’d need your absorption shell, and overall the
majority of your ships mass, only an inch away to get one gravity of tug on the ship.
At that distance the power being absorbed would obviously melt any material but even
if it didn’t the radiation pressure would fling it away at more than one gee.
For bigger, longer-lived, lower-powered black holes that radiation pressure drops off a
lot and that gravity ramps up a lot, so you could use gravity to leash a bigger black
hole for use as a ship drive but there wouldn’t seem much point except maybe for intergalactic
travel, because it would simply take way too long to accelerate everything.
But I offer that just as a way of explaining how you can leash a black hole to a moving
object in a way that’s simple to understand and definitely works.
Ideally, if the technology emerges to reflect gamma rays, and we do have some tricks for
doing that which are improving, and if you can feed matter into a black hole, you could
set up some particle beams shoving matter into the black hole from behind, and giving
it forward momentum and refueling it, then have the gamma reflective material helping
cut down on your absorption shell size, or simply letting you discard the absorption
shell in favor of just the parabolic reflector dish able to reflect gamma rays.
That’s probably the key piece of technology to make such a system genuinely viable, we
might be able to do without it and still use the concept, but ability to make a material
that reflected gamma rays as cleanly as a normal mirror reflects visual light makes
this technology vastly less cumbersome. If you also had the ability to beam hydrogen
you picked up along the way into the black hole, to refuel it and help push it to keep
it in place its even easier. With such a setup you would have a ship able to get pretty close
to the speed of light, do so in a reasonable period of time, and run indefinitely off the
fuel just lying around in the interstellar void.
Your maximum speed with such a setup wouldn’t be infinite, even ignoring the speed of light,
since you’d eventually reach a point where the matter you were sucking in was slowing
you down by the same amount as the power it produced would speed you up, but that would
be quite high. If you don’t have those options you really
need to use larger sized black holes unable to produce accelerations of one-gee, but even
if you did you’d probably never build a ship that produced much more than one-gee
of acceleration, that would get uncomfortable for the crew so even if you had a very small
and powerful black hole you could refuel and contain you’d probably just have a much
larger over all ship. The values I gave on the table just assume
the total ship and cargo not including the black hole had the same mass as the black
hole, to keep it mentally easy, but if you’ve got a black hole that would produce 10 gees
of acceleration on its own mass, you could simply have a ship that weighed 10 times as
much as the black hole, including the black hole, so that it was 10% of the mass, pushing
the ship at one-gee. In such a setup the ship is basically a skyscraper
with the black hole in the basement, rather than having any rotating sections to provide
artificial spin gravity. That’s usually our ideal ship for people
anyway, one able to accelerate at one gee. Without the ability to refuel one and reflect
gamma rays you can never have that, and frankly I don’t think black hole powered ships could
ever be viable without at least one of those technologies.
Before we close out let’s talk about two other things. First, the impact with SETI,
and second the ability to weaponize these things. We’ve talked a lot on this channel
about the Fermi Paradox, the question of where all the aliens are hanging out, and SETI,
the Search for Extraterrestial Intelligence, is the effort to answer that, either by finding
them or showing they don’t exist. One of the ways we do that is to listen for radio
chatter, but the more advanced concepts always involve trying to figure out what technologies
they have and how we might see the byproducts of those technologies.
For instance if the aliens are making Kugelblitz black holes you’d expect to see stars with
large solar collector swarms dwarfing planet in sheer area. You’d also expect to be able
to pick these things up from their gamma radiation or emitted gravitational waves or gravitons
if gravitons exist. We don’t have detectors at this time hunting for such emissions but
they would be one more weapon in the arsenal for SETI hunting.
Speaking of weapons, there are few obvious ways to weaponize a black hole. None of those
involve just dumping a black hole onto a planet for it to eat the planet up, I explained why
that wouldn’t work in the previous video. Your first and simplest one would just be
to crash a black hole starship into the target. A megaton of relativistic mass would unleash
nearly as much power as a star emits in a second when it hit, something akin to a billion
h-bombs. This isn’t as threatening as you might initially
expect since if you saw the ship coming you could vaporize it, and while the black hole
would still be there it would just fly right through the planet without doing much damage
and continue to sail on till it evaporated. Of course when these things do evaporate the
unleash quite a lot of energy, somewhere around 10^24 joules in their last second of life.
And you can control their initial speed and direction when making them so if you can make
on the fly and aim it at the right place and time it will explode pretty impressively.
That’s not a covert and subtle weapon though, since they glow very brightly, especially
near the end of their life, but you couldn’t shoot one down either, at best if you could
measure its position and speed with great accuracy you might be able to hit it with
a beam, just like you were refueling it, and shove it off course.
If you can’t hit it off course that target is dead unless it can move out of the way
in time. Of course a ship and probably even a bulky space station probably could see it
in time and move, and while these would seriously damage a planet’s surface they aren’t
anything like powerful enough to blow up a planet. Excellent bunker buster though, since
it will sail through anything unimpeded. If you’ve got the gamma-ray reflective materials
and can refuel the things, implying you could knock one of course, then you can probably
also make them on board a ship. And you could make very small ones inside what would amount
to a missile with a very high acceleration and maneuverability and just cut off the fuel
at a time to make it explode when it arrived. That would be fairly hard to detect since
it would be small and emitting almost all its detectable radiation behind it, where
the target can’t see it well. So if you’ve got the ability to reflect
gamma rays and also feed raw matter into small black holes a black hole missile would be
pretty devastating, even if you vaporize the missile, which would have enormous kinetic
energy, if the timing on the fuel was done right you’d still get that black hole explosion,
and that would be very hard to avoid since the things would be hard to see and highly
maneuverable. So black hole starships are probably limited
to the land of science fiction for a while but show real promise especially if we get
a couple fairly plausible technologies down the road.
Next time we’ll be looking at some stuff that’s more implausible when we look at
various concepts for Faster Than Light Travel and Communication. If you want to be alerted
when that video comes out, make sure to subscribe to the channel, and this week we also have
a poll again for the next subject we’ll be covering after FTL so make sure to take
that. As always, comments, questions, and video
suggestions are welcome, if you enjoyed this video hit the like button, share the video
with others, and try out some of the other videos on the channel.
Thanks for watching, and have a great day!

  • What about a white hole star ship?
    Assuming they exist and you can keep it somehow attached to your ship through some currently sci fi force fields as a direct rocket engine.
    I mean you can't turn it off but you can discard it after you got your destination.

  • Black hole missiles would actually be very easy to detect because the absorption shell/parabolic mirror will heat up tremendously and emit a lot of IR (and probably even visible light).

  • So you can't have a black-hole too small neither too large. But maybe you can have multiple black-hole drives connected to the same ship!

    What about, if your Bussard Ramjet scooped the hydrogen due the black-hole's gravity, rather than powering electric tractors? Maybe the ramjet effect could be a bi-product of the main drive.

  • How do you move black hole from a point in space you created it in? You can't, like, hold it… Can you?

  • Could an unmanned spacecraft enter a black hole trailing some sort of ultra long fiber optic cable to relay information outside of the black hole?  I understand that creating a spacecraft and cable strong enough to survive the trip is likely impossible, but "if" we could, is it possible for information to escape to the outside that way?

  • the simple fact you discussed about ships having so much power to vaporize cities even ones not designed for war, makes alot of sense to people who pay attention to star wars and war hammer 40k as most of the vessels in these universes have guns in the multi megatons and higher ranges of explosive yield outputs.

  • couldn't you use the time dilation effect at near light speed to control the distance a micro black hole does it's final energy burst? want to shoot something near by set velocity to .7c, long range .99c. assuming ofc you can accelerate things to those speeds.

  • Call me old fashioned, but what if you took inspiration from a classic petrol engine?

    I haven't finished the video quite yet and am by no means educated in engineering and astro-pysics, but In this video, you propose that you need only make one black hole and balance its mass to its longevity, to energy output. If i'm correct in understanding how black holes work, the smaller they are the more energy they put out, but the shorter lived they are. Now take the example of a classic petrol engine, pistons pumping out thousands of little explosions every minute. Replace your pistons with boson lasers and viola! tiny mass black holes being created and collapsing, one after another, just like a petrol engine; also overcoming the refueling problem, since the lasers will just create a new one instants after the last has collapsed. what are your thoughts isaac? just stumbled upon your channel the other day; earned a subscriber right off the bat with post-scarcity civ 🙂 peace & understanding be

  • If you had the ability to refuel a black hole, if a weaponised black hole on the verge of exploding was hurtling towards you, surely you could just refuel it enough that it won't explode until a fair while after it has passed you?

  • Hey Issac — I just found out I had missed some of your older videos. Hooray! Some more hours to watch!
    Happy Easter from Vienna!

  • I haven't watched the whole video yet, but when you mentioned weaponizing black holes I thought of how based on what I know it's more practical to use the artificial black hole to blow the planet rather than suck it up.

  • But how do you "attach" the black hole to the vessel with the black hole drive you mentioned, because outherwise it would push the starship away from it

  • I'm not sure that there really would be any speed limit to the black hole ramjet.

    Why? Because when you are encountering matter at relativistic speeds, it has more mass energy, which is what ends up in the black hole. Ultimately, an efficient enough black hole ramjet is basically a black hole scramjet, in that the material is not really so much being slowed down as converted to black hole and then immediately to exhaust at close to C, or C if the exhaust is actual photons.

  • Couldnt you deflect a black hole by throwing a heavier one at it? Or is there a problem with that?

  • You need a package manager like yum or apt-get that guides me through the prerequisite videos in order to reach the video I was originally interested in. The popups are a good workaround, but not entirely ideal.

  • The biggest problem I see with this is accelerating such high amounts of mass around. Good luck human race

  • can you do a video about the stupidity of unarmed spaceships?
    i have tried explaining that to, primarily trekkies, that its utterly retarded. but im not very knowledgable about the science beyond just pointing out that just the ability to survive hitting an object at 5%c represents mind-boggling durability, and any weapons on such ships will by default be more destructive. that or pointing out that terrestrial ships are unarmed due to treaties and agreement for governments to attempt defence of ships in their waters.

    i think its a message that a lot of sci-fi need to have explained. if only to take the edge off the sheer hubris they display. i just dont know enough solid science to put the point across coherently.

  • I know this is nuts, but here's something that hit me.

    What if, when a particle of matter and one of anti-matter get together, you get a teeny-tiny black hole that dissapears in a puff of hawking radiation.

  • Almost watched all your videos now and I just keep wanting new ones. Thanks again Isaac and all helpers for your effort to create such great content! =)

    On a sidenote: Have you had any German lessons Isaac? Because that pronounciation of "Kugelblitz" was nearly on point!

  • Essentially, the black hole is a implosion bomb with a timer that makes the black hole explodes once it's collapsed into a position where it dies.

    If we could find a white hole…

  • Isaac Arthur has the best documentaries! the only downside unfortunately he reads too fast and hard to understand :(– it will be good if he let someone else do the reading

  • I read a story where they didn't power a ship, but rather they created a black hole in front of the ship, and then that singularity was kept just ahead of the ship via a field of some sort. Basically it used the pull of the black hole on the ship to move it, and the inertia created by the ship's movement was also used to push the black hole forwards. I wonder if this is actually feasible. Anyone wanna weigh in on that?

  • How do you move these black holes? You can't physically push them; whatever you push them with will just cross the event horizon and be gone. Not good if that happens to be part of your ship.

  • A large black hole in the front of a ship would allow for speeds up to the speed of light cause any interstellar hydrogen would fall into the large black hole. Smaller black holes with a tungsten shell moving around the larger black hole would maneuver the black hole star ship. A kerr black hole relies only on spin so a ball of depleted uranium accelerated in spin by magnetic fields could generate a blackhole. The tungsten shell would probably help transmit magnetic acceleration to the ball of depleted uranium. Depleted Uranium has interesting cohesive properties that allow molecular structure to heal damage done to it. Theoretically a ball of depleted uranium could be accelerated at that cohesion limit until the blackhole formed. A black hole drive ship is technically an FTL ship cause space is already falling inward towards the singularity faster than light.

  • No need to refuel! Just use multiple slower black holes in parallel!
    That way you can have more power without a shorter lifespan!
    Also, putting multiple black holes in a rotating circle in front of you, with the ship attached to the half-shells in front by a rod through the middle. That way you could have the black holes accelerate and pull you with them via gravity, meaning you are pushing the shells too via the rod.
    Not sure if this worked out in practice or if it’s just troll physics. 😉
    What do you think?

  • Haven't they created artificial micro black holes at cern using the particle collider? I mean if they get exponentially more energy as they get smaller wouldn't that have killed all of us already?

  • Suppose that black holes are not really holes, but a very massive and dense sphere that light cannot escape from but has a surface.

  • the mass of the black hole does complicate calculations a bit, but if you have a 5% efficient (energy outputted/kinetic energy) hawking radiation -> kinetic energy method, your black hole will have a mass of ~ 1000 T, and will live for ~ 80 seconds, forcing you to feed it mass, or constantly make a new one. if you cant feed it mass, you could have lots of greater mass ones, but they would only add to the mass. ultimately, feeding them mass is the only option; and a lot of it, given the mass of the black hole youre trying to keep alive. if we ever do find a solution (maybe mass replicators?), then black holes would be the preferred method of relativistic travel. only other problem is accelerating at any reasonable rate will kill the crew (assuming you have humans running it, and they are still in their bodies).

  • There's an alternative to Hawking, one that actually works even better with black holes that get too big to put out more than a terrawatt of hawking radiation. You extract the black hole's rotational energy, which can account for up to 29% of its mass-energy equivalent if you stopped it spinning.
    Advantages are that with less hawking pressure, feeding it would be much easier, as it would also be a bigger 'target', and firing in matter at low energy needs, at the right angle, would also give it back angular momentum.
    First is the Penrose process, but the gains of the matter part which leave behind the part which is left to fall in are in kinetic energy, which is hard to 'extract' once the matter comes back.
    The other and more feasible is the Blandford-Znajek process, which threads magnetic field lines to act as 'circuits' through the ergosphere and/or accretion disk and pole for electrons and positrons to flow, the rotation being extracted to induce a current.
    With this process, your energy gains are in electrical form, and with superconducting means [that such a reactor's circuits and magnets would need anyway], you can harness it for electric means of propulsion. This way, and with how easy to top up they are, you could have a much smaller black hole in relation to the ship's mass and get the energy you need.
    Black hole creation by the kugelblitz method, and then feed it a ***kload of matter so that its hawking output decreases to manageable levels, and once it also has an electric charge, then confine it inside a negatively charged sphere that will naturally contain it by mutual repulsion. Of course, if the ship accelerates hard and you want to keep the black hole centred for reliable aiming of energy extraction/feeding, you can have large electromagnets that activate in accordance to 'buffer' the charged BH and keep it in the centre, altering as the ship accelerates or stops accelerating.

    But one thing you said in the video is correct though, a gamma ray reflector material is needed regardless of the process.

  • 1/3 thru video: this gives opportunity for some advanced calculations. First we need to calculate how much mass must be thrown into a black hole of given size per second to maintain constant energy output, then we need to calculate how much mass in proportion to the ship one should carry in "fuel". Ideally, I'm guessing, it would work around the range of 100 megaton ship, plus 20 megatons of fuel, and a black holes which can output (as controlled by its pilots) from 1.5g to .25g of acceleration. To increase g force, simply starve the black holes appropriately. (Such may take like 2 weeks though) and further math can show an optimum ratio set for max acceleration per unit mass by controlling the ratio of black holes size and ship size.

  • Are black hole drives more feasible than Albucurie Drives (sp?) or both mathematically but not necessarily physically possible?

  • Just an idle thought: wouldn't a black hole propelled ship have the highest chance of making a ship that is a huge percentage of the total mass of the ship to get super high acceleration?

  • This is a very weak and dumb theory / hypotheses what if we get to the stage of force fields that nothing gets thru just imagine a deadly black whole sucking our universe dry. Stopping all surroundings to go into the black whole completely while not being sucked by the force happening.

  • Black holes of the scale discussed here are much closer to evaporation than any that have been observed. Would any of the more plausible solutions to the information problem change the physics involved enough to make a ship like this unworkable?

  • I'm probably going to say something really stupid here but… from what I understand, which isn't much lol… the bigger the black hole the longer it lives and the less power it kicks out. I watched the video on micro black holes and the 100 megaton one providing a decent amount of power over like 4 billion years, so why not make the one megaton ones that burn out fast and generate 1G of thrust to move the damn ship and have a bigger one on board to power lasers to make other little ones to replace the ones you have to jettison at the near end of their lives? before they go boom..or am I just being overly simple 😛

  • Black holes are 2 dimensional objects. No matter where you are in space around it, it will always be circular. Black holes are not spheres. They have no 3rd dimension. Get your act together. Don't over-complicate things. We must not give them attributes that have never been measured. Is the central face of a black hole any more gravitationally attractive than 45 degrees from the nearest point. Well of cause not. How about the mythical curved face at 89 degrees away from you (withing the concept that it is a sphere). Well of course not. Its only a 2 dimensional thing. Its a circle. Its a disc. It has no depth. It has an event horizon that is not a singular point. It is defined by this circumference. It has no depth.

  • what accent is this? not being funny but the first sentence – i couldn't understand and had to caption. since then i'm fine but i can't place it

  • I had a similar idea which I initially posted around 2005 (site doesn't exist any more). However I retooled the post and reposted it in 2011 on my newer blog: I think you need a swam of smaller mass black holes, that way you can extract much higher levels of energy from a given mass at any one time. If so called "faster than light" technologies are possible they would no doubt consume large amounts of energy quickly. So the larger outputs would be needed. Also Many small black holes contained and compressed to recombine at a certain rate could keep the energy output at a particular level. Of course, like you point out, it would take technologies we haven't even come close to when it comes to confinement.

  • Why does it matter if the interior of the shell melts? Will a liquid shell not still absorb the radiation and emit it as heat into the outer solid layer?

  • Tricky question: Can a micro-Black Hole consume neutrinos? Or would they be pushed away by Hawking Radiation too?

  • To avoid the trade off between longevity and power output, can't you just use multiple small black holes, provided you have the ability to create them at will?

  • Black holes for powering spaceships could be made by concentrating the energy of hundreds of lasers at a single point, alternatively, they could be made by somehow squeezing some things down until their radiuses are their schwartzchild radiuses ( an object's schwartzchild radius is the size at which it becomes so dense that its gravitational pull prevents even light from escaping ), there's no known way to do this artificially. We've already made artificial black holes, most being ' dumbholes ' or sonic black holes that don't let sound out. A kiloton of work is left to be done before micro black holes are ready to power spacecraft!

  • thank you for these detailed explanations Isaac this is probably the best science and speculative channel on YT.

  • I love your channel sir. I've recently gotten a newer car with Bluetooth so now I can listen to your show while going to work. Much better than local radio.

    I also love the fact that all my other channels all give you respect for being one of the top shows in this field.

    Since the discovery of gravity waves a bit ago that has given my idea of how many aspects of space travel follow suit to sailing.

    I've| also wondered if wood, compressed and infused with a high carbon resin might be a possibility.

    There are many times down here that wood beats metals for strength to weight. I was thinking using wood to be a radiation shielding around the pantry.

    Compressed wood in a vacuum, then impregnated with the resin and pressed into dense sheets.

    I have lots of ideas, then most I find a show or a comment you made, which makes me feel justified, even if embarrassing by posted it, then seeing the episode the next day.

    Keep up the great work.

  • I feel like combining this with a bussard ramjet would be the ultimate interstellar ship… I read somewhere that a black hole power plant could have a mass-energy efficiency of 42%. This could probably overcome the major issues of the Bussard ramjet, the energy to accelerate the fusion fuel to the ship speed ends up roughly equal to the energy gained from fusing it at around 12% c. Fusion energy can only get a few percent of mass-energy. Black holes could get 42%. There's still a speed limit, but it may be much higher, perhaps at a point with a decent gamma value.

  • Talking about black hole starships reminds me of the Giant's Star series by James P Hogan. In these books this race of aliens used black holes, projecting it in front of the ship for propulsion. (Do read it, it's a great series of books `Inherit the Stars, Gentle Giants of Ganymede, Giant's Star. There are several more but those three are the important ones) What their descendants do with black hole torids is amazing.

  • How do you stop a MBH drive ?
    You can't turn the BH off.
    If you deploy an opposing mirror, the mirror duo becomes a hell of a super-heating oven.
    And if you retract the drive mirror, you are still left with some thrust (from the minimum protection) and a MBH radiating everything around.
    Maybe you could deploy/reshape the mirror as 2 opposing spikes to redirect the radiation as a disk ?

  • So I'm curious: with the idea of a weaponized small black hole, or for that matter with your mention of dropping one and having it bob back and forth through the planet, wouldn't it be accreting mass from the planet? I assume you're saying that Hawking radiation for the size black holes you're talking about would cause them to evaporate faster than any accretion. That seems very counter-intuitive, since it would be ripping pulling in mass that it encountered much faster than even a fast flux due to Hawking radiation, wouldn't it? In any case, presumably this would throw off timing on a weapon use of a black hole if, say, you wanted to take out a city or ten on the far side of a planet by shooting a black hole through the planet, timed to evaporate at the far side surface for maximal damage.

  • so you know, clicking on the thumbnail does not pause this video and open a new one for that topic. It just pauses this video only. That's all.

  • Why couldn't you launch your ship with two black holes, one small and one big? Use the small one to get up to speed then jettison it when it gets dangerous from then on use the heavier one.

  • Did the Romulans use a black hole for power generation? I think it was contained deep in the ship in containment. It could accelerate matter like a particle collider and eject it for an engine. A black hole may be potentially used to create exotic matter/ energy for warp drive.

  • But if you fired enough mass or energy at a black hole missile, you might be able to delay the explosion until after it passes through you.

  • I understand you perfectly. For anyone not to understand is kinda odd. Maybe it’s someone from another language as their primary. Laughed when I saw that note you put up.

  • black holes can eat entire galaxies and the more it eats the more mass it has, the more mass it has the bigger and stronger it gets….  when black holes eat other black holes and you get all kinds of antimatter in there, you're probably looking at big bang stuff.

  • Wont you just get fried by all the light from stars if you get very close to the speed of light. Because the time dilation will mean that years of light all hits you in seconds.

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