Black Hole Peel – Natalie Thatcher

I will admit it, today’s post is less about the art and more about the inspiration behind it. I have long maintained that I don’t have a particular hero, or someone who inspired me, but I think I have been wholeheartedly mistaken. It has taken me a few days of pondering to even start writing this post partially through feeling that something has been lost to us and partially because I wanted to do this justice and I couldn’t find an image I wanted to post with it. Obviously I am talking about the loss of Stephen Hawking (and not, if you are in the UK the loss of Jim Bowen, although equally sad as I thought they were bringing back Bullseye… how will people in the Midlands win a speedboat now?).

Stephen Hawking, I now come to realise has had quite a big impact on my life. He was, someone who achieved despite the lot he was given, as he was so gifted with a mind that was ever questioning and almost childlike in his want to learn and share his knowledge. He had a great sense of humour which was displayed not only in his public speaking, but also in his appearances in TV shows such as “The Big Bang Theory”. He was able to laugh at himself and see the absurdity of life. If you have watched the heart touching “The Theory of Everything” you will know part of his story, and while I don’t believe there was only one breakdown on finding out that he had Lou Gehrig’s disease; as I can imagine that this was a long period of adjustment, especially just as he was finding his flow in the world of science, you can’t help but admire what he went on to achieve.

For a man whose life was littered which achievements, I am just going to point you in the direction of google for you to find them, as that does a far better job that I will of telling you about his scientific highlights, his merits, beliefs and writing, as really I am not that fond of lists and I think that this could turn in to one if I go down that road. You should however know that Hawking constantly questioned his own work, and revised his theories often, which is admirable as it is quite hard to see fault in your own work, let alone then work to disprove something you have strived to theoretically prove.

Now, just because I have now admitted that Hawking is a hero of mine, that doesn’t necessarily mean that I agree with all of his thoughts and theories. For example, he was a Labour supporter, and personally politics bores me on most levels, I just keep a hand in it, as it is a necessary evil. There is however one quote by him which sticks with me, and being an atheist it appeals to my scientific side:-

“There is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority, and science, which is based on observation and reason. Science will always win because it works.”

It seems quite an outright statement, but for me it is more about believing based on what you can prove rather than having blind faith (which is probably an argument for another post). I like to think, that like Hawking, I try and understand all elements, even of things I don’t necessarily agree with, so that I can form my judgement. I also would like to think, like him I continue to question and revise my thoughts based on what is presented and proved though research and study.

Now I have come to this revelation, I will talk about someone else he clearly inspired, which was Natalie Thatcher when she created this ink drawing of “Black Hole Peel” inspired by Hawking’s theory on black holes. This particular drawing shows how the artist envisaged a black hole swallowing a star. Don’t worry I am not going to attempt to explain to you how Hawking combined the theory of relativity and a bit of quantum mechanics to achieve understanding black holes to a new level, nor and I going to discuss at length Hawking radiation which is a theory around how black holes shrink and eventually die, just like stars. I will how ever say that black holes draw in to them things that come within their gravitational pull, and despite the popular belief of things that go in to a black hole never come out, Hawking had a theory that things could come out of black holes.

Thatcher has produced how she sees the star being drawn in to the gravitational pull of the black hole, the light that would be emitted, long with its gases and debris being effectively sucked in to the whirling tornado of the space version of the Bermuda Triangle.

The star in this drawing actually makes me think of a dying sunflower, the petals wilting down to expose the wide disc florets. It’s a particularly clever way to depict a dying star.

I think that this is a beautiful interpretation of Hawking’s theory.

To end this post I am going to leave you with another quote and a picture of the great man:-

“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge”

Who is your hero? Why not tell me in the comments? Like this post? Why not share it?


16 thoughts on “Black Hole Peel – Natalie Thatcher

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      1. I’m going to have to think on it more. I do have a question for you, as I absolutely love reading your mesmerizing descriptions/explanations of paintings. Have you ever done Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I haven’t done the garden of earthly delights yet… but I am willing to accept the challenge… 😊 I’ll piece it together next week. I have done the seven deadly sins by him though which you you can find here… and thank you! I love writing them and having guys like you appreciating it makes it so worth while for me. Feel free to let me know if there are other pieces that you would like to see on here 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I had no idea what that was a drawing or painting of and already liked it. I can savor all the textures and movement in it.

    About his science vs. religion quote. It’s true, but his test is on science’s terms, such as what is a fact, and what works when building some sort of contraption. That, however is not the function of religion. Buddhism, for example, isn’t trying to say what is factual or to make a machine work. It doesn’t look for a conclusion that can be expressed in words.

    Jordan Peterson sees religion as traditionally a proven system for functioning in the world. He’s coming at it from the angle of therapy, since he’s a psychologist. So, if one were trying to change ones life (ex., Alcoholics Anonymous), scientific facts might be irrelevant. The real question would be how to fix ones life. So, for some people, religion is a means to an end, and is not a factual end in itself nor meant to be taken literally.

    That said, I’m not religious. But I do agree with the scientists who say that not only is reality stranger than we imagine, it’s stranger than we can imagine. However you slice it, the universe is beyond our comprehension, and there’s much more to it than science can prove [note that science can’t find consciousness, which is the core of our being].

    But, yeah, in terms of practical application regarding how things (not people) work, religion is a joke compared to science, and Hawking nailed it in pointing out that science produces things that function.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a particularly compelling piece and I like the movement in it. I don’t think it matters in this case if you don’t fully understand what the drawing is of.

      I don’t usually rise to the bait of a religious debate in my comments as I have quite strong personal views on religion through years of research and the decision that actually all religions tout a “be good to one another” routine until it doesn’t suit them and war breaks out because of it. Granted Buddhism is probably the exception to this, but I think that actually that is more a way of life and how to live it peacefully over the others.

      It has long been accepted that religion is blind faith, if we could prove it, it would cause a dogma and then move this from being a religion to being a fact, shifting it in to the world of science and whose ever god was found to be the actual existing one probably upsetting a lot of other previous believers of the opposing factions. Hawking said that religion was basically a theory that was created to stop people being afraid of the dark. I am sure that there is a basis of some truth in how these stories started. We know people existed that worked to try and make man kind see that peace and love was a better way to live, but somewhere along the way the peace and love turns in to my ideology is better than yours… we still see this now with the actions which are being taken in Palestine and the surrounding areas.

      While I know what you are saying, there are many that take religion at its word and think that the writings are fact.

      Now, I am not against anyone having their beliefs, in fact I encourage it. If religion brings comfort and a way of living your life in a manner that is bringing peace and comfort, that is great and I still continue to be eternally intrigued by the writings and stories which go along side it… which if you have read anything else I have written about, you will see that I certainly don’t shun it.

      For me though I prefer that science proves things, ok so we can’t define consciousness now… that doesn’t mean that we won’t in the future. We also can’t categorically define that the Big Bang actually happened in the way we theoretically think it did, but it’s a better theory than a guy creating everything in 6 days… there are builders who can’t create an extension to a house in 6 days so God must have been going some.

      What gets me most about religion is that it hasn’t moved with the times. It is still prescribing a way of life which was relevant when the texts were written. There is a whole argument in itself which could look at why there have been no further directives from the higher beings now as we advance in a world which essentially is being driven by a higher influence.

      Also what happened to the gods that have fallen by the way side? Did they stop being functional therefore ok to cast aside? Greek, Roman, Norse? It’s a odd action for deities that were believed in so ferociously at one stage or another.

      All this said, I’m not disrespectful to people’s beliefs and mine is one based in science rather than religion… it’s just my outlook on life and I’m good with it. If I’m wrong, I’m sure I’ll find out in the end.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. “I’m sure I’ll find out in the end.” Yeah, maybe. 🙂

        I agree with essentially everything you said, and there certainly are people who insist religious texts are literally true, and then deny science (ex., evolution). Here I can’t defend religion in the least. Nor can I defend it when it comes to describing how the universe came in to being, how water boils, and so on.

        The people that make arguments for NOT completely throwing out religion do so along the lines of Joseph Campbell (hero archetypes, etc.) and Carl Jung (the collective unconscious…), or else in connection with ancient rites of passage and native shamanic rituals involving psychoactive plants. We can’t and shouldn’t reduce the scope of reality to only that which can be objectively proven, as that does apply chiefly to physical matter.

        The significance of consciousness here is that it is the seat of our being, and, the one thing which we can be sure of: Descarte’s infamous “I think therefore I am”. It is the one philosophical irreducible truth – we know we exist, because we are self-aware. Thus, the most essential and irrefutable subjective truth is simultaneously impossible according to today’s science. We cannot prove that consciousness exists, and the great puzzle is how an immaterial consciousness interacts with a material body. We don’t know. The logical conclusion here is that if our very existence cannot be proven by science to exist at all, there is an extraordinary and undeniable element of the undiscovered or incomprehensible to the universe. It is extreme arrogance to presume that only that which human science can and has proven actually exists or exerts an influence on what transpires.

        Religion, or spirituality, or various strains of mysticism address that which objectivity and its tools can not. Can aspects of existence be understood not objectively through linguistic structures, but subjectively, experientially, or through eschewing or going around or turning off rational thought (as Eastern philosophy would have us do in order to perceive directly)?

        I wholly agree with you that religion as blind faith, and conviction in the truth of certain ancient texts is obstinate, reductionist, and dangerous. But I think, to go with a metaphor, we cut off our antennae if we discount the possibility of experience and understanding beyond the realm of the physical, rational, and banal.

        This is not at all anti-science, just saying I think there’s more. Actually, I know there’s more and therefore I think it.

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      2. The difference here is I am open to science being able to redefine itself and constantly question. Moving its techniques forward and perhaps one day finding the illusion reason to consciousness.

        I don’t think I am arrogant in saying this, I’ve clearly said I am not closed off and continue to question and observe life around us. I am not so closed minded to think that because something hasn’t been proven yet that it is not real. The real crux here is I am willing to admit I am wrong if you bring me proof that my current beliefs are misguided where as within a religious context generally they are not.

        So you can throw all the philosophical quotes at me you like, maybe you think I haven’t explored these avenues before, but I am really quite happy with my choice and look forward to the day that someone can present me something that will change my mind again.


      3. I didn’t mean YOU were arrogant! Sorry if I gave that impression. I meant our species is IF we think human intelligence can envelope the entirety of the cosmos. We wouldn’t assume any other animal or creature had that potential. I don’t even think you assume that. It’s a supposition about our species, and not a criticism of you at all.

        It isn’t really an either/or. There is that which can be objectively known and that which can be subjectively known. Surely you knew things before you had any grasp of a scientific model of the universe. We have fleeting glimpses of things. There are things we understand but can’t explain.

        I’m not denying science can and does evolve. I’m just saying there’s more to the human mind than just the objective, rational part, and the other parts are also able to explore, understand, and convey knowledge. So, for example, a novel, or art, or music, can convey knowledge which science cannot. You can explain how the ear works and sound waves, but a Beethoven piano sonata can’t be translated into anything other than what it is, and it is a profound statement about existence that takes place outside of linguistics or objectivity.

        If an alien species were to discover human artifacts in the distant future, they would learn much about us through our art that they couldn’t through our science. This is why the aliens communicated through music in Close Encounters. Do we learn more about the ancient Egyptians through their art or their science? Maybe both.

        Science may be able to explain how emotions work physically, but not psychologically. It applies to the physical universe more than the human. The subjective cannot be understood by the objective. The subjective can only understand itself … … … subjectively. Science can tell us many things about an octopus, but it can’t tell us what it is like to BE an octopus.

        We wouldn’t want to deny that the Tibetan monk who spent years meditating has some sort of knowledge or experience that we don’t? Why bother to cultivate such knowledge and experience?

        Finally, there’s no reason to oppose objectivity and subjectivity, that which can be known through the intellect and that which is known through experience. Each of us is capable of both, and the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. You can, quite easily embrace science and art and other avenues of perception and experience.

        I’m definitely NOT anti-science!



      4. Your comments did feel a little pointed and this is why I generally steer away from the science v religion debate as they can get heated and misconstrued especially in the written medium. I don’t deny anything you’re saying.

        My only point will be that we are the only species to wonder what it would be like to be an octopus… I don’t think the octopus cares what it’s like to be human. I also don’t think that the octopus has the same thought capacity and probably never ponders the fact that he is thinking therefore being.


      5. I’m just adding chocolate to the banana split. There are objective and subjective inquiries and truths. They don’t need to be mutually exclusive or invalidate one another.

        I have no problem with science or what it reveals about reality. Quite the contrary. To the degree I can understand it — my math sucks — I find it fascinating.

        I just don’t find it to be the complete picture. There are other windows we can look out of to get another perspective.

        The octopus is a metaphor for people. Science can tell us everything about your anatomy, and not much about who you really are. For that we’ve got to go to your subjective, lived experience, and how you navigate the world. In short, science can’t tell us what it is like to be human.

        If an alien species arrived tomorrow, and their science was advanced beyond ours, what would we have to offer them?


      6. As I have previously said, I understand what you are saying, but what has happened here is a heart felt tribute to someone I found completely inspiring (not saying I am always on the same page as him) has been turned in to a debate where both see the same side of the coin from a different angle. Science doesn’t currently answer everything but neither does spiritualism, mysticism or any other ism that you want to throw at it (here we go with the isms again). You have hammered your point home, you’re right science doesn’t cover everything.

        As a side note if aliens made it here they would be far more advanced than us and would probably be here to plunder resources and wouldn’t really be that bothered by what else they could learn from our seemingly primitive species which couldn’t even master space travel enough to find said aliens first.

        Personally though, and this is my own view… we are essentially egotistical bacteria which have made it to the top of the food chain. A mutation in our brains giving us the ability for a high consciousness which allows us to see things from this perspective rather than said utilised octopus who doesn’t know he is an octopus, as that is actually just a given name from a race that thinks it is superior because it has the ability to think differently.

        I will take it as a compliment that you are finding our debates so enthralling that it continues on though 😊


      7. OK. I didn’t want to debate. I was just adding something to the mix. I hope the aliens are more morally advanced as well, otherwise we might end up being pets.

        Really didn’t mean to be contentious. Cheers.


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