For a long time, it was assumed that the gravitational pull of a black hole was total — that nothing, not even light, could escape the clutches of its event horizon. Then, in 1974, an up-and-coming physicist named Stephen Hawking made the bold suggestion that thanks to the peculiarities of quantum physics, black holes should actually emit a tiny amount of electromagnetic radiation (known as Hawking Radiation) and slowly shrink over time. Now, an Israeli physicist named Jeff Steinhauer claims to have proven Hawking’s theory — by creating an acoustic black hole in the lab.
Steinhauer’s black hole is, of course, just a shadow of the real thing. It builds on the proposals of a physicist named Bill Unruh, who suggested in the ’80s that scientists could recreate the physics of a black hole using other substances — for example, a swimmer on the edge of waterfall unable to move fast enough to escape the pull of the water, is acting, in a broad sense, similar to particle of light being sucked into a black hole.
STEINHAUER RECREATED A BLACK HOLE USING SOUND WAVES INSTEAD OF PARTICLES OF LIGHT
Instead of using water or light as its medium, though Steinhauer used sound waves. His experiment involves cooling a cloud of rubidium atoms to just above absolute zero (the lowest temperature theoretically possible), at which point they enter a state known as a Bose-Einstein condensate. Using lasers, Steinhauer creates a lip in the cloud like the edge of a waterfall — with atoms moving slowly on one side, before pouring over the edge faster than the speed of sound.
THE RESULTS COULD HELP US UNDERSTAND THE INFORMATION PARADOX