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 New type of smart windows use liquid to switch from clear to reflective
14.12.2017 | The Optical Society

nachricht New ultra-thin diamond membrane is a radiobiologist's best friend
14.12.2017 | 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: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Plasmonic biosensors enable development of new easy-to-use health tests

14.12.2017 | Health and Medicine

New type of smart windows use liquid to switch from clear to reflective

14.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

BigH1 -- The key histone for male fertility

14.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>