Boffins in 'let's create black holes in the lab' jape

SQUIDs. Is there anything they can't do?


Boffins in America say they have worked out a method of creating small black holes in the laboratory for experimental purposes. They seem unconcerned at the prospect of possibly destroying the earth, creating a portal into a parallel universe where peckish man-eating dinosaurs rule etc.

Many scientists, of course, have sought to create desktop black holes for various purposes. But thus far people have tended to fool about with such things as supersonic fluid flows, ultracold bose-einstein condensates and nonlinear fibre optic cables. As one might expect this has achieved little.

But now, topflight brains at Dartmouth College* have at last proposed that an array of superconducting quantum interference devices, or SQUIDs, should be placed inside a magnetic field-pulsed microwave transmission line.

This should be done, they say, not for the purpose of creating interdimensional portals or whatnot, but for taking a gander at the "Hawking radiation" which may (or may not) actually be emitted by black holes - which are called "black" because it may (or may not) be completely impossible by definition for any radiation to be emitted from them. The notion of Hawking radiation comes to us, of course, from calculations by renowned wheelchair robo-voice uberboffin Stephen Hawking.

"Hawking famously showed that black holes radiate energy according to a thermal spectrum," says Paul Nation, a grad student at Dartmouth. "His calculations relied on assumptions about the physics of ultra-high energies and quantum gravity. Because we can't yet take measurements from real black holes, we need a way to recreate this phenomenon in the lab in order to study it, to validate it."

"The new SQUID-based proposal may be a more straightforward method to detect the Hawking radiation," adds Prof Miles Blencowe.

The scientists add that their SQUID-tastic desktop collapsar would not be anything like as potentially destructive as the gargantuan galaxy-gobblers sometimes seen (or inferred from things seen, anyway) in the night skies. Indeed, strictly it wouldn't seemingly be an actual pukka black hole at all, just a sort of black-hole-like set of conditions.

The Dartmouth boffins describe it as "reproduction" and "imitation", rather than a genuine rip in the vary fabric of space-time. They add that it would be "much-tinier" than its "celestial counterparts". ®

*Not, of course, the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth in Devon, officer academy of the Royal Navy; this is a different and more obscure Dartmouth located in New Hampshire, America.

Broader topics


Other stories you might like

  • Photonic processor can classify millions of images faster than you can blink
    We ask again: Has science gone too far?

    Engineers at the University of Pennsylvania say they've developed a photonic deep neural network processor capable of analyzing billions of images every second with high accuracy using the power of light.

    It might sound like science fiction or some optical engineer's fever dream, but that's exactly what researchers at the American university's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences claim to have done in an article published in the journal Nature earlier this month.

    The standalone light-driven chip – this isn't another PCIe accelerator or coprocessor – handles data by simulating brain neurons that have been trained to recognize specific patterns. This is useful for a variety of applications including object detection, facial recognition, and audio transcription to name just a few.

    Continue reading
  • World’s smallest remote-controlled robots are smaller than a flea
    So small, you can't feel it crawl

    Video Robot boffins have revealed they've created a half-millimeter wide remote-controlled walking robot that resembles a crab, and hope it will one day perform tasks in tiny crevices.

    In a paper published in the journal Science Robotics , the boffins said they had in mind applications like minimally invasive surgery or manipulation of cells or tissue in biological research.

    With a round tick-like body and 10 protruding legs, the smaller-than-a-flea robot crab can bend, twist, crawl, walk, turn and even jump. The machines can move at an average speed of half their body length per second - a huge challenge at such a small scale, said the boffins.

    Continue reading
  • Supreme Court urged to halt 'unconstitutional' Texas content-no-moderation law
    Everyone's entitled to a viewpoint but what's your viewpoint on what exactly is and isn't a viewpoint?

    A coalition of advocacy groups on Tuesday asked the US Supreme Court to block Texas' social media law HB 20 after the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals last week lifted a preliminary injunction that had kept it from taking effect.

    The Lone Star State law, which forbids large social media platforms from moderating content that's "lawful-but-awful," as advocacy group the Center for Democracy and Technology puts it, was approved last September by Governor Greg Abbott (R). It was immediately challenged in court and the judge hearing the case imposed a preliminary injunction, preventing the legislation from being enforced, on the basis that the trade groups opposing it – NetChoice and CCIA – were likely to prevail.

    But that injunction was lifted on appeal. That case continues to be litigated, but thanks to the Fifth Circuit, HB 20 can be enforced even as its constitutionality remains in dispute, hence the coalition's application [PDF] this month to the Supreme Court.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022