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Twisted Physics

The Singularity is Nearer Than You Think

31 Jul 2009, 03:37 UTC
The Singularity is Nearer Than You Think
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Could there be a potential black hole lurking in your bathtub? I guess it depends on how you define black hole, but over the past few years there have been numerous stories in the science press about researchers creating "analogs" to black holes in their labs. After all, to a cosmologist, a singularity might lie at the center of a black hole, and represent a point of infinite density, but mathematically, this just means that the equation blows up to infinity. In that sense, the singularity may be nearer than we think.Physicist Michael Berry (University of Bristol in England) has been saying for decades that
not all singularities are evil. He frequently writes about the
mathematical equivalent of such singularities in light, showing up in
rainbows, at the bottom of swimming pools, even in teacups. And Bill Unruh, a physicist at the University of British Columbia, proposed the notion of creating analog black holes way back in 1981. Back then, Unruh talked about so-called "dumb holes," thus named because instead of light not being able to escape, sound waves were trapped: this is a black hole that can't speak not a black hole that can't shine. It turns out that ...

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