# A visit to a Black hole

At points far from a black hole, its gravitational effects are the same as those of any normal body with the same mass. If the sun collapsed to form a black hole, the orbits of the planets would be unaffected. But things get dramatically different close to the black hole. If you decided to become a martyr for science and jump into a black hole, the friends you left behind would notice several odd effects as you moved toward the event horizon, most of them associated with effects of general relativity.

If you carried a radio transmitter to send back your comments on what was happening, your friends would have to retune their receiver continuously to lower and lower frequencies, an effect called the gravitational red shift. Consistent with this shift, they would observe that your clocks (electronic or biological) would appear to run more and more slowly, an effect called time dilation. In fact, during their lifetimes they would never see you make it to the event horizon.

In your frame of reference, you would make it to the event horizon in a rather short time but in a rather disquieting way. As you fell feet first into the black hole, the gravitational pull on your feet would be greater than that on your head, which would be slightly farther away from the black hole. The differences in gravitational force on different parts of your body would be great enough to stretch you along the direction toward the black hole and compress you perpendicular to it. These effects (called tidal forces) would rip you to atoms, and then rip your atoms apart, before you reached the event horizon.

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