Saturday, October 2, 2010

Artificial Black Hole May Confirm The Existence of Hawking Radiation

In 1974 Stephen Hawking showed that according to quantum theory, black holes should be emitting a steady stream of radiation, an assertion which contradicted the conventional belief of the time that nothing could escape the gravitational pull of a black hole. But according to quantum mechanics, it's possible for virtual pairs consisting of a particle and it's antimatter equivalent to spontaneously spring into existence. The field surrounding the edge of a black hole is believed to be strong enough to cause these virtual particles to become real, potentially trapping one of the pair inside the black whole while allowing the other to escape in the form of what is now called Hawking radiation.

By firing a laser beam through a glass block, Italian scientists have managed to create an optical black hole capable of replicating the gravitational warping which occurs inside the event horizon of a real black hole. Repeatedly firing the laser into the glass once every trillionth of a second, researchers were able to alter it's refractive index, creating a small disturbance within the block and preventing the light from moving forward and back into the the air, mimicking the effect of the gravitational pull of a black hole. Though not an exact match, the simulation has allowed researchers to study some of the effects of matter's passage into a black hole, including observing what appears to be Hawking radiation.

If the groups findings are confirmed, this would this be the first time Hawking radiation has ever been observed and this new home made black hole might also be used to test other elements of string theory and quantum mechanics. Including- attempting to create other optical representations of even more exotic phenomena like the theoretical white hole.


Source: New Scientist and:io9

For more information on Hawking radiation, check out the following clip:

Posted by YouTube user:stevebd1

I believe this clip came from the BBC documentary: " Stephen Hawking Master of the Universe", but I have yet to watch the entire documentary to confirm it contains the clip, so the YouTube commenter from which I took that information could be wrong. Regardless, the portion of the documentary I have watched is very good and you can watch it in it's entirety on turxxx'schannel on YouTube.

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