EDUCATION: Touching the Void

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Science  26 May 2006:
Vol. 312, Issue 5777, pp. 1113e
DOI: 10.1126/science.312.5777.1113e

It's like the ultimate adventure game: Board a spaceship, fly to a warped part of spacetime, and drop into a black hole. Welcome to the visually stunning Black Holes: Gravity's Relentless Pull. This month, astronomers Roeland van der Marel of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, and Gijs Verdoes Kleijn of the University of Groningen in the Netherlands received the €25,000 Pirelli INTERNETional Award for the educational Web site. Its encyclopedia offers background information on how black holes form, how long they last, and more. Chairborne astronauts can zip off to destinations such as Cygnus X-1, where a black hole is sucking matter from a nearby star. There, you can perform virtual experiments such as dropping a clock into the void: It ticks progressively slower and freezes on the edge of the black hole.

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