Friday, August 19, 2016

The strange case of the oscillating black hole at the gym

There's a micro-black hole at my gym, and it oscillates between a position under the squat cages and the deadlift platform, in synchrony with my powerlifting program.

It's the only possible explanation.

The data: following my not-very-demanding powerlifting program (which is very low volume, even for powerlifting), I should have gained $5\%$ in both the squat and the deadlift in the last six weeks. This is feasible because I'm recovering strength from the beginning of the year, not creating new strength. (Who said powerlifters have crazy superstitions?)

Clearly, what is happening is that the same mass (bar + weights) is exerting a larger force on my body, which means that there's a micro-black hole under the gym. Since I estimate that there's a 3-meter foundation, this being earthquake territory and all, I postulate that the black hole is below that:

Furthermore, it has to move, since it doesn't affect bench press (where, despite a damaged right rotator cuff, I'm recovering strength well above the program envelope) but it affects the other two lifts. Since it affects both lifts the same percentage, that black hole has to move diagonally, as seen above. It also oscillates back and forth between the squat and deadlift stations.

Two black holes, you say? Don't be ridiculous. Two back holes, indeed! Pah!

So, a little back-of-the-drawing calculation, the kind that drives OCD quants crazy...

(with three or four corrections along the way, including a slight ahem when I used $c = 3\times 10^{9}$ instead of the correct $c = 3\times 10^{8}$ m/s)

... and I have my micro-black hole. As small as the total gains of an entire continent's worth of CrossFitters, at a Schwarzchild radius of $3\times 10^{-16}$ meter and as heavy as a Planet Fitness personal trainer, at a mass of $2\times 10^{11}$ kilogram. That mass means that the black hole won't evaporate anytime soon, so my stalled gains will continue.

(The time to evaporate a black hole with a mass of $10^{11}$kg  is in the billions of years, about the time it would take for a CrossFitter to do one good chin-up or a Planet Fitness client to lose five ounces of fat.)

Clearly this is an important discovery. Hello, Nobel Committee? Got a pick for 2017 Physics yet?

Alternative explanation 1: weight gain on my part

First off, to cancel a $5\%$ increase in squat and deadlift, I'd have to have gained close to $15\%$ of my bodyweight over six weeks. That's not impossible (or even unheard of), but in reality I've been losing weight at about 1kg per week, mostly fat, hopefully more than 1.5kg of fat per week (muscle mass increasing at 0.5kg/week during a recovery is reasonable).

Also, weight gain wouldn't affect squat and deadlift in the same way, unless I gained all the weight above my sternum. (I continue to improve my mental skills, but that doesn't significantly increase the mass of the brain...)

In an ass-to-grass squat (my type of squat), the femur goes over a 110-120 degree arc, hence getting to the weakest part of the quads force curve. So, some more weight in the torso may affect the ability to squat heavy. But for the deadlift, the drive with the legs is only an arc of 60-70 degrees, well away from the weak part of the force curve for the quads, therefore the loss of deadlifting power given additional bodyweight should be much lower than the loss for the squat, not the same. But the same it is.

(In the squat my weakness is the quads, in the deadlift, the spinal erectors; never my glutes. Hip thrusts, baby, hip thrusts FTW! I do leg-extensions with the full stack for reps, but only an ass-to-grass squat hits the quads at their full extension...)

This explanation is therefore dismissed.

Alternative explanation 2: poor supplementation

A picture is worth a thousand words (and about two hundred dollars):

Of course, I eschew that marvelous "supplement" family, anabolic steroids, or if one wants to be a little more discreet, TRT, testosterone replacement therapy. I like my reproductive system to stay at manufacturer's specification. It's kind of a big deal for me, to have the theoretical capability for reproduction (Theoretical because the 3.75 billion women in the world took a vote and unanimously –minus my mother– decided that for the good of the universe I should not reproduce; who am I to question democracy?)

This explanation is therefore dismissed.

Alternative explanation 3: I'm no longer an 18-year-old kid.

Poppycock and balderdash! Balderdash, I say!

Age is but a number and you're as young as you feel. Besides I'm barely in my early middle age -- just a few months past 30.*

This explanation is dismissed with extreme prejudice and a SEAL Team 6 visit.


The only possible logical conclusion is that, like in the 1990 David Brin scifi novel Earth, there's a naughty micro-black hole oscillating between the space under the squat cages and the lifting platforms, and by enormous coincidence its period matches my powerlifting program.

Obviously the solution is to combine the Westside Barbell approach of growing a big belly with the Testosterone Nation recommendation of synergistic beard growing and head shaving so that, even with increasing gravity, gains will come:

It's Science!

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* 236 months, to be precise.