Cornell University has launched a new subject that puts race and racial identity in space.
Students at the prestigious American university will now be able to take Black Holes: Race and the Cosmos to understand the connection 'between the term black holes and racial blackness'.
According to the New York Post, the subject will use 'black studies theorists, artists and fiction writers to challenge conventional wisdom about the role that race plays in astronomy'.
A statement from the university's website on the subject states: "Conventional wisdom would have it that the 'black' in black holes has nothing to do with race. Surely there can be no connection between the cosmos and the idea of racial blackness. Can there?
"Contemporary Black Studies theorists, artists, fiction writers implicitly and explicitly posit just such a connection.
"Theorists use astronomy concepts like 'black hole' and 'event horizons' to interpret the history of race in creative ways, while artists and musicians conjure blackness through cosmological themes and images."
Professors Nicholas Battaglia and Parisa Vaziri will run the course and they will try to use artists and musicians to explain how they 'conjure blackness through cosmological themes and images'.
The course description adds: "Works may include works by theorists like Michelle Wright and Denise Ferreira da Silva, authors like Octavia Butler and Nalo Hopkinson, music by Sun Ra, Outkast and Janelle Monáe.
"Astronomy concepts will include the electromagnetic spectrum, stellar evolution, and general relativity."
Since news of the subject broke on social media, there has been mixed reaction as to whether the university should pursue this type of learning.
One person wrote: "The term 'Black Hole' is not about race or skin color. In fact this course from Cornell likely is causing way more damage than good."
Another added: "If you want to know what an intellectual wasteland the Ivy League has become, at Cornell they are wondering whether 'black holes' are racist."
For hundreds of years, physicists have hypothesised about black holes, having first speculated about 'dark stars' in the 1700s.
The term black hole originated from the celestial body's ability to absorb all light. Its dense gravitational nature means nothing is able to escape it, not even light.
It can cause what's known as an event horizon, which is boundary right on the edge of the black hole where light ends. The event horizon is the point of no return, beyond which anything gets swallowed up - including stars, planets, gas, dust and even electromagnetic radiation.
Scientists took a picture of this back in 2019 after years of work, and it showed how there is a light hue that surrounds the massive celestial body.
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