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  • Writer's pictureDana Glossbrenner

Black Holes at My House

Black Holes at My House

If you’ve taken a high school physical science class in the last decade or so, watched Nova on PBS, or tried to read A Brief History of Time (that would be me), you’d know about black holes.

Black holes live at my house. I’ve heard people say that a lost letter, ring, or book has been swallowed up, never to appear again. However, black holes also explain temporary disappearances. Things made invisible re-emerge in an alternate reality.

My backpack is a black hole. It swallowed two brushes at the event horizon (this is the boundary where matter begins to behave differently), that being the one zipper I fail to see when the backpack is functioning as a black hole. The brushes went missing for a week but reappeared in an alternate reality when another black hole, my brain, came into play. From this second black hole, a memory seeped, creating this new reality in which I remembered shaking the backpack and wondering what was in there but concluding the chunking sound was intrinsic to the structure rather than indicative of something in there. In this new reality, I looked again at the black-holey backpack, noted the disappearing zipper which now was visible, and found my brushes.

My backpack is also a mobile black hole. I carefully stowed my android tablet inside the section with the disappearing zipper before realizing its abilities. Checking into a hotel, I removed the tablet and laid it on the counter. After checking in, I went straight to the room. I searched for the tablet, and it had been swallowed. I returned to the desk, but it wasn’t there. I searched the car—there are slots that swallow tablets and books there—but came up empty-handed. I checked again at the desk, now two minutes since the first inquiry. Still no tablet. Back at the room, I examined the backpack. The disappearing zipper emerged, and I opened it to free my tablet. I ran to the desk to tell the clerk that my tablet had appeared so that she would have one less thing to worry about—no doubt she was rifling her memory for who could have been standing beside me and taken the tablet when I checked in. Although her expression didn’t fully convey her relief, I know she was as glad as I was that I had found my tablet.

The back of my bathroom door is a black hole. When the door is fully open, the unseen hooks on the back become event horizons for catching up matter that floats by. Two large bathrobes cloak these goings-on when the door is closed and I am busy in there, with the opportunity to stare at those bathrobes. Favorite T-shirts and pajama bottoms have been obscured and swallowed for months, to be discovered in the alternate reality of winter and the need for a bathrobe.

My closet is a black hole. It produces a big bang when I decide to clean it. Sweaters, scarves, belts, and shoes—long lost and forgotten—are spewed out, transformed by gravitational pressure. Some transformations make objects of great value—comfortable sandals, scarves that have come back in style—while other items have suffered closet wear—that limp, pilly look that occurs from simply hanging abandoned in the closet.

I look forward to learning more about black holes as science advances. If they are shortcuts through space and humans learn to navigate them, I’ll be ready for the trip. C.S. Lewis’s wardrobe to Narnia was really a black hole. Those kids should have searched it as they traveled back and forth.

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