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Science!: Boobs or Butt and Black Holes (Again)

Lauren Admire | 2 Nov 2009 21:00
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First Artificial Black Hole Created

Yup, folks, it's happened. Set the Apocalypse Watch to red, for humanity has taken one small step in astrophysics, and one giant leap forward toward our ultimate doom. Scientists at the Southeast University in Nanjing, China have created the world's first artificial black hole. CERN: 0, China: 1.

To better explain how the impossible happened, a brief introduction to metamaterials is necessary. You may have heard of metamaterials before - the big story was that these man-made materials could bend light around an object, rendering it invisible. Physicists have proclaimed many other possible applications of metamaterials: recreating the Big Bang, protecting buildings from earthquakes, and, of course, every physicist's favorite DIY project: creating a black hole.

Researchers Qiang Cheng and Tie Jun Cui have created a metamaterial from which microwave frequencies cannot escape. They arranged 60 layers of circuit boards in concentric circles and coated them with copper. Patterns were etched into the copper patterns that can either resonate at microwave frequency, or not. Now, black holes absorb light because their gravitational pull is so strong that nothing, not even light, can escape its pull. However, the metamaterial created by Cheng and Cui doesn't work on that level - instead, the material essentially re-routes the incoming microwaves, capturing it in a labyrinthine maze which it can never escape from.

Currently, the metamaterial is only able to absorb microwave frequencies, but they are working on one that will be able to absorb visible light as well.

Possible applications of this metamaterial are endless: harvesting visible and solar light for energy, for one. The article ends with this chilling one-liner: "The prospect of a black hole in every household may not be as far-fetched as it sounds." I don't know about you, but I'd rather not have real-life versions of Homers' and Peters' having access to those kinds of machines, if you get what I mean.

Source: Technology Review

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