black hole

black hole

noun
Astronomy. a theoretical massive object, formed at the beginning of the universe or by the gravitational collapse of a star exploding as a supernova, whose gravitational field is so intense that no electromagnetic radiation can escape.
Dictionary.com Unabridged

Black Hole

noun
1.
Also called Black Hole of Calcutta. a small prison cell in Fort William, Calcutta, in which, in 1756, Indians are said to have imprisoned 146 Europeans, only 23 of whom were alive the following morning.
2.
(lowercase) any usually wretched place of imprisonment or confinement.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Collins
World English Dictionary
black hole
 
n
1.  an object in space so dense that its escape velocity exceeds the speed of light
2.  any place regarded as resembling a black hole in that items or information entering it cannot be retrieved

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

black hole
in astrophysics, 1968, probably with awareness of Black Hole of Calcutta, incident of June 19, 1756, in which 146 British POWs taken by the Nawab of Bengal after the capture of Ft. William, Calcutta, were held overnight in punishment cell of the barracks (meant to hold 4 people) and all but 23 perished.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
black hole  


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An extremely dense celestial object whose gravitational field is so strong that not even light can escape from its vicinity. Black holes are believed to form in the aftermath of a supernova with the collapse of the star's core. See also event horizon, See more at star.

Our Living Language  : When a very massive star ends its life in a supernova explosion, the remaining matter collapses in upon itself. If there is enough mass in this collapsed star, it becomes a black hole. A black hole is so dense that its gravitational forces are strong enough to prevent anything that comes close enough to the region known as the event horizon from escaping. Even light cannot escape, since the escape velocity (the velocity needed for an object to escape some larger object's gravitational field) necessary to escape a black hole is greater than the speed of light. Black holes are extremely dense: for the Sun, which has a diameter of about 1,390,000 kilometers (862,000 miles), to be as dense as a black hole, its entire mass would have to be squeezed down to a ball fewer than 3 kilometers (5 miles) across. Some theorists postulate that the material in a black hole may be compressed to a single point of infinite density called a singularity. Because astronomers cannot directly observe a black hole, they infer its existence from the effects of its gravitational pull. For example, when a black hole results from the collapse of one star in a binary star system, it attracts material from the remaining star. This material forms an accretion disk, which compresses and heats up until it emits detectable x-rays. Black holes are thought to reside in the centers of many galaxies, including our own Milky Way.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

black hole definition


In astronomy, an object so massive that nothing, not even light, can escape its gravitation. Black holes were given their name because they absorb all the light that falls on them. The existence of black holes was first predicted by the general theory of relativity. Supermassive black holes have been found in the centers of many galaxies. Stellar black holes are thought to arise from the death of very massive stars. Astronomers expect to find many stellar black holes in the Milky Way.

Note: Figuratively, the term black hole is used to refer to a total disappearance: “They never saw the man again — he might as well have fallen into a black hole.”
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Slang Dictionary

black hole

n.,vt. [common] What data (a piece of email or netnews, or a stream of TCP/IP packets) has fallen into if it disappears mysteriously between its origin and destination sites (that is, without returning a bounce message). "I think there's a black hole at foovax!" conveys suspicion that site foovax has been dropping a lot of stuff on the floor lately (see drop on the floor). The implied metaphor of email as interstellar travel is interesting in itself. Readily verbed as `blackhole': "That router is blackholing IDP packets." Compare bit bucket aand see RBL.
FOLDOC
Computing Dictionary

black hole definition


1. An expression which depends on its own value or a technique to detect such expressions. In graph reduction, when the reduction of an expression is begun, the root of the expression can be overwritten with a black hole. If the expression depends on its own value, e.g.
x = x + 1
then it will try to evaluate the black hole which will usually print an error message and abort the program. A secondary effect is that, once the root of the expression has been black-holed, parts of the expression which are no longer required may be freed for garbage collection.
Without black holes the usual result of attempting to evaluate an expression which depends on itself would be a stack overflow. If the expression is evaluated successfully then the black hole will be updated with the value.
Expressions such as
ones = 1 : ones
are not black holes because the list constructor, : is lazy so the reference to ones is not evaluated when evaluating ones to WHNF.
2. Where an electronic mail message or news aritcle has gone if it disappears mysteriously between its origin and destination sites without returning a bounce message. Compare bit bucket.
[Jargon File]

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010 http://foldoc.org
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

black hole

  1. A wretched prison cell or other place of confinement. For example, The punishment is solitary confinement, known as the black hole. This term acquired its meaning in 1756 with the event known as the Black Hole of Calcutta. On the night of June 20, the ruler of Bengal confined 146 Europeans in a prison space of only 14 by 18 feet. By morning all but 23 of them had suffocated to death. Although historians since have questioned the truth of the story, it survives in this usage.

  2. A great void or abyss. For example, Running a single small newspaper ad to launch a major campaign is useless; it amounts to throwing our money into a black hole. This usage alludes to a region, so named by astronomers, whose gravitational field is so intense that no electromagnetic radiation can escape from it. [Late 1970s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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