Triumph of Light Pt. 2
New York, Rockefeller Center November 28, 2007
From above Times Square Tuesday, this night we have descended into the milling crowd. Wednesday was the 75th lighting of Rockefeller Center’s Christmas tree! While waiting in the cold, we were serenaded by celebrities from Tony Bennett to Carrie Underwood. With a nod to energy conservation, this year the tree is lit with 30,000 light-emitting diodes. Solar panels placed on Rockefeller Center’s rooftops provide some of the electricity. As the holidays are a season of hope, this tree again demonstrates that “dark energy” does not dominate the Universe.
This Norway Spruce grew in Connecticut before being harvested and shipped to Manhattan. An image of hope is also a reminder that our time on Earth is limited. Though the felling of a tree can be sad, there are many more trees growing. If old trees were not removed, the forest would face greater danger from fire. Tree growers in the US are now required to plant more than they fell. Despite all the threats, trees continue to grow, life continues to form and evolve new structures.
While the solar panels are a nice touch, most of New York’s electricity still comes from fossil fuels. Petroleum and coal are formed deep within Earth, when organic molecules encounter interior heat. Source of Earth’s core heat has long been a mystery. Most radioactive elements have half-lives of only a few million years. The old hypothesis of “radioactive decay” cannot explain why the core remains hot after 4.6 billion years.
If Earth indeed formed around a Black Hole, than this tiny object would give off Hawking radiation indefinitely. It would be far too small (0.5 millimeters) to sick us up, but the small amount that it eats has kept Earth warm for several billion years. The radiation produced would eventually make its way to the surface as heat. Some of that heat converts chemicals to fossil fuels which humans use for energy.
The lighting of this tree shows that “dark energy” does not dominate; the Universe continues to create luminous structures. Primordial Black Holes are relics of a time near the Big Bang. Energy from a Black Hole eventually finds its way into fossil fuels, which power New York lights. Even solar power originated in a Sun born around a primordial Black Hole. If not for their quiet presence, our planet and Solar System would not have formed. This Happy Holiday is courtesy of a Black Hole!
NEXT: Where the day was spent, a place more exciting for science.
Labels: New York