Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Event horizon dawns on desktop

24.01.2002


A black hole: physicists hope to mimic this peculiar cosmic phenomenon in the lab.
© SPL


Miniature physics phenomena could show hidden shades of space.

An event horizon is dawning in laboratories. Using frozen light, physicists hope to mimic this peculiar cosmic phenomenon and glimpse something like the belches of a black hole.

At the event horizon - the rim of a voracious black hole - dimensions as we know them disappear. To an observer on a spaceship, light and time appear to stand still. A floating spaceman would seem to slow and stop.



"It’s very difficult to do experiments at real black holes," points out physicist Ulf Leonhardt of the University of St Andrews in Scotland. So Leonhardt has worked out a way to build a simulated event horizon using a device that halts light in the lab1. "It would be almost table-top sized," he says.

The simulation could create a mock version of elusive ’Hawking radiation’. These weak electromagnetic waves are thought to occur when light reaches the event horizon, but they are masked from us by other emissions. "We might even be able to see it with the naked eye," says astronomer Fulvio Melia of the University of Arizona in Tucson.

No one has ever seen Hawking radiation, or knows what it will look like. The sum of the Universe’s light equals a pale turquoise, it was revealed last week Hawking radiation, too, "might have a particular tint", suggests Melia.

"If it’s true it’s tremendously interesting," says cosmologist Bernard Carr of Queen Mary and Westfield College, London. Imitation event horizons may help us to understand the quantum effects of gravity, and resolve conflicts between general relativity (the theory of the biggest bodies in the Universe) and quantum theory (the rules governing its tiniest constituents).

General relativity predicts that nothing can escape a black hole; quantum theory says that Hawking radiation does.

On the horizon

Black holes are formed when ancient stars collapse under their own gravity. They pack vast mass into a pinpoint of space. Their intense gravity sucks in anything that passes too close, including light; they even distort time.

As light waves hit the event horizon, they are thought to split into pairs of particles called ’quanta’; one falls into the black hole and one escapes as Hawking radiation. "A pile-up occurs," says Melia. Many light waves produce streams of quanta heading forwards and backwards.

Leonhardt’s idea is to copy this barrier, using the recent demonstration that certain materials can halt light2,3,4. Shining a laser beam into cold matter manipulates the rate that its constituent atoms absorb and re-emit waves of a second beam, causing this second beam to slow or stop.

The point where light stands still is analogous to an event horizon, says Leonhardt: quanta will be emitted. The simulation is a ’naked horizon’: a membranous event horizon without the black hole beyond.

References

  1. Leonhardt, U. A laboratory analogue of the event horizon using slow light in an atomic medium. Nature, 415, 406 - 409, (2002).
  2. Turukhin, A. V. et al. Observation of ultraslow and stored light pulses in a solid. Physical Review Letters, 88, 023602, (2002).
  3. Liu, C., Dutton, Z., Behroozi, C. H. & Hau, L. V. Observation of coherent optical information storage in an atomic medium using halted light pulses. Nature, 409, 490 - 493, (2001).
  4. Phillips, D. F., Fleischhauer, A., Mair, A & Walsworth, R. L. Storage of Light in Atomic Vapor. Physical Review Letters, 86, 783 - 786, (2001).

HELEN PEARSON | © Nature News Service

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Exploring the mysteries of supercooled water
01.03.2017 | American Institute of Physics

nachricht Optical generation of ultrasound via photoacoustic effect
01.03.2017 | American Institute of Physics

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

Im Focus: Safe glide at total engine failure with ELA-inside

On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded after a glide flight with an Airbus A320 in ditching on the Hudson River. All 155 people on board were saved.

On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded...

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A better way to measure the stiffness of cancer cells

01.03.2017 | Health and Medicine

Exploring the mysteries of supercooled water

01.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Research team of the HAW Hamburg reanimated ancestral microbe from the depth of the earth

01.03.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>