Black holes are perhaps one of the scariest things in the universe.
The massive gravitational pull of the black hole, created by the collapse of a dying star, can destroy planets and consume all that’s in its way.
Once you’re in a black hole, you can never get out.
So, making one in a laboratory seems like a very bad idea!
But black holes aren’t the simple universe destroyers that we tend to think of them as.
And there might even be mini black holes, which could teach us a lot about the cosmos without posing any threat.
Take a look at this guide to find out about lab-grown black holes (and why you don’t have to worry about them).
What Is A Black Hole?
A black hole is an area of spacetime where gravity has become so powerful that nothing can escape, not even a particle of light.
The boundary through which no particle can return is known as the event horizon.
Black holes reflect no light and have an incredibly dense core.
They’re created by dying stars, which collapse rapidly into themselves while exploding into a supernova.
But there’s still a lot about black holes that we don’t know.
And because black holes are both distant and lacking features, observing black holes in space is very difficult, especially if we’re looking for the theorized Hawking radiation, a type of thermal radiation that is weak and almost impossible to detect.
This is why there’s some interest in creating our own.
Will We Ever Create A Black Hole In The Laboratory?
Before you worry about lab-created black holes, it’s important to rethink what the black hole is.
Black holes that we’ve observed have all been massive.
Perhaps unsurprising, as they’re incredible distances away, emit no light, and we can only view them indirectly.
But just because we’ve only been able to see large black holes, it doesn’t mean that smaller ones don’t exist.
These are the theorized micro-black holes or quantum mechanical black holes.
The existence of these black holes is still hypothetical and exists on the principle that the rules of general relativity break down around the event horizon.
We will never be able to create a full-sized black hole because the amount of mass and energy required to do so would be impossible to achieve in a lab setting.
These planet-destroying black holes are created when a star collapses in on itself, and we just don’t have the ability to recreate that.
Not to mention, even the most ardently devoted scientists wouldn’t be interested in creating something that would immediately destroy us all.
How would they ever get time to study it?
Micro black holes are a different matter. Micro black holes are tiny and could, potentially, be created in a lab setting.
There are a few reasons why creating these micro black holes would be incredibly difficult and perhaps even impossible.
This is because the creation of even a micro black hole requires an incredible amount of energy.
However, things behave pretty strangely around a black hole.
The rules of general relativity might distort, potentially allowing us the opportunity to create a black hole in a laboratory.
If we were to do so, the results wouldn’t be quite as terrifying as you might think.
In fact, the small size of these micro black holes would mean that they would disappear almost immediately.
If it didn’t instantaneously evaporate, the gravitational pull would be too small to do any real damage.
Why Create A Black Hole In The Laboratory?
There are plenty of reasons why scientists may attempt to create a lab-grown black hole, and a big reason is simple curiosity.
But another reason to create a black hole would be to find out about Hawking radiation.
Hawking radiation is a form of thermal radiation proposed to exist by Stephen Hawking.
Hawking Radiation is released outside the event horizon of the black hole and reduces the rotational energy and mass of the black hole.
Because Hawking radiation reduces the mass, it’s theorized to lead to the eventual evaporation of black holes.
If a black hole isn’t gaining mass from other sources, the Hawking radiation will cause the black hole to shrink slowly.
For small black holes, Hawking radiation would work quite quickly, as the radiation is emitted in inverse proportion to the mass of the black hole.
Hawking radiation is weak when coming from larger black holes, which has made it incredibly difficult to observe.
Being able to create our own lab-grown black holes would give us a chance to observe the event horizon and monitor for Hawking radiation.
We don’t directly observe black holes through telescopes.
Instead, we find them indirectly, via the matter that’s drawn towards them and the influence the powerful gravity of the black hole has on other objects.
Because of this, there’s still so much we can’t observe.
Being able to create a black hole would also help us confirm another theory — that there are more dimensions to the universe than the four that we’re aware of.
Can The Large Hadron Collider Create Black Holes?
Before the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) was first switched on in 2008, there were some fears that it would end up creating a black hole that would be able to destroy the Earth.
When the Large Hadron Collider was turned on, these worries were proven to be unfounded.
The LHC is a particle collider. It creates collisions between particles to observe the effects.
These collisions do have the potential to create a micro black hole, but it would be a surprise.
The LHC simply lacks the massive amount of energy needed.
Particle collisions happen all the time, and it’s not something unknown to nature.
The Earth is bombarded by cosmic rays, which are much more powerful than the collisions at the LHC, and manages to survive.
If the LHC did create a mini black hole, it wouldn’t pose a threat. But it would reveal some exciting things about the nature of our universe.
Have We Created Black Holes In A Lab?
Although we’ve yet to create an actual black hole, we have created some lab-grown replicas.
The researchers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology created a black hole analog to observe if radiation behaves as Hawking predicted.
These analog black holes were created using rubidium atoms, cooled close to absolute zero, and held with a laser beam in a state of flowing gas.
A second laser beam was used to create potential energy, causing an event horizon where half the gas moved faster than the speed of sound and half moved slower.
The reason for doing this was to observe photons and see what they could tell about Hawking radiation.
The overall aim was to see if radiation was stationary, as Hawking theorized.
Creating these DIY black holes was not a simple process, but it was still easier than creating an actual black hole.
They also proved no threat. In fact, the heat of taking a photo destroyed the black holes.
Black holes can be a scary thought. They have an intense gravitational pull, and the only way to escape is to travel faster than the speed of light.
However, actually creating a real black hole in a lab is potentially impossible.
And if we did manage to make one, it would evaporate almost as soon as it was created.
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