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 Quantum gas turns supersolid
23.04.2019 | Universität Innsbruck

nachricht Explosion on Jupiter-sized star 10 times more powerful than ever seen on our sun
18.04.2019 | University of Warwick

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: Quantum gas turns supersolid

Researchers led by Francesca Ferlaino from the University of Innsbruck and the Austrian Academy of Sciences report in Physical Review X on the observation of supersolid behavior in dipolar quantum gases of erbium and dysprosium. In the dysprosium gas these properties are unprecedentedly long-lived. This sets the stage for future investigations into the nature of this exotic phase of matter.

Supersolidity is a paradoxical state where the matter is both crystallized and superfluid. Predicted 50 years ago, such a counter-intuitive phase, featuring...

Im Focus: Explosion on Jupiter-sized star 10 times more powerful than ever seen on our sun

A stellar flare 10 times more powerful than anything seen on our sun has burst from an ultracool star almost the same size as Jupiter

  • Coolest and smallest star to produce a superflare found
  • Star is a tenth of the radius of our Sun
  • Researchers led by University of Warwick could only see...

Im Focus: Quantum simulation more stable than expected

A localization phenomenon boosts the accuracy of solving quantum many-body problems with quantum computers which are otherwise challenging for conventional computers. This brings such digital quantum simulation within reach on quantum devices available today.

Quantum computers promise to solve certain computational problems exponentially faster than any classical machine. “A particularly promising application is the...

Im Focus: Largest, fastest array of microscopic 'traffic cops' for optical communications

The technology could revolutionize how information travels through data centers and artificial intelligence networks

Engineers at the University of California, Berkeley have built a new photonic switch that can control the direction of light passing through optical fibers...

Im Focus: A long-distance relationship in femtoseconds

Physicists observe how electron-hole pairs drift apart at ultrafast speed, but still remain strongly bound.

Modern electronics relies on ultrafast charge motion on ever shorter length scales. Physicists from Regensburg and Gothenburg have now succeeded in resolving a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

First dust conference in the Central Asian part of the earth’s dust belt

15.04.2019 | Event News

Fraunhofer FHR at the IEEE Radar Conference 2019 in Boston, USA

09.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Marine Skin dives deeper for better monitoring

23.04.2019 | Information Technology

Geomagnetic jerks finally reproduced and explained

23.04.2019 | Earth Sciences

Overlooked molecular machine in cell nucleus may hold key to treating aggressive leukemia

23.04.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>