Black Hole in a Test Tube

Friday, 17 November, 2000

A professor of theoretical physics will use chilled atoms to create a 'black hole' in a test-tube.

Professor Ulf Leonhardt, at St Andrews University in Scotland, claims that the hole will not have the devastating effect of dying stars that collapse as supernovas into themselves, and will be no bigger than a raindrop.

It will be the first time such an attempt has been made to mimic the implosions of outer space.

The test-tube black hole will be made with chilled atoms swirling rapidly inside the tube.

Professor Leonhardt and his colleague, Paul Piwnicki of Stockholm's Royal Institute of Technology, claim that by using the Bose-Eisenstein condensate, a low-temperature material that is halfway between being a liquid and a gas, they can slow down the speed of light sufficiently, so that their atomic whirlpool would only have to spin at several feet per second for the light to be swallowed inside.

For further information please contact Professor Ulf Leonhardt on ph: +44 1334 463115 or fax: +44 1334 462030 or via email.

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