The point at which tidal forces destroy an object or kill a person will depend on the black hole's size. For a supermassive black hole , such as those found at a galaxy's center, this point lies within the event horizon , so an astronaut may cross the event horizon without noticing any squashing and pulling, although it remains only a matter of time, as once inside an event horizon, falling towards the center is inevitable. For small black holes whose Schwarzschild radius is much closer to the singularity , the tidal forces would kill even before the astronaut reaches the event horizon.   For example, for a black hole of 10 Sun masses [note 2] the above-mentioned rod breaks at a distance of 320 km, well outside the Schwarzschild radius of 30 km. For a supermassive black hole of 10,000 Sun masses it will break at a distance of 3200 km, well inside the Schwarzschild radius of 30,000 km.
Last night I had the privilege of once again appearing on the Colbert Report to talk with our nation’s leading pundit about the frontiers of modern science. I can’t seem to embed the video (shakedown, remember?), but here’s the clip . I’m not sure you’d want to use it to help explain how the Higgs mechanism works, but I think we had fun. The joke about “massive” at the end makes sense only if you know that Colbert has a running gag, referenced earlier in the show, in which he has been trying to get people to say “massive” as a synonym for “cool.”