Before the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN finally began operation, there was a small movement to shut the project down, out of fear that scientists would inadvertently create a black hole that would swallow the entire planet.
This obviously didn’t happen, and probably won’t.
Now, however, perhaps we should cast our gaze over to Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, where scientists are now explicitly trying to simulate black holes in the lab.
The good news is that the scientists are only recreating the characteristics, or “space-time structure,” of black holes using laser pulses. These pulses will, according to lead scientist Daniele Faccio, lack the mass “associated with [gravitational] black holes,” and avoid any of the messy consequences associated with them.
“We’re trying to generate exactly the same conditions that you would find around a gravitational black hole so we can control and tune the conditions and try to make these black holes do something useful for us.”
– Dr. Daniele Faccio
The idea here seems to be to simulate the conditions of a black hole — to mimic its effects — without actually having access to one. For a more in-depth look at the actual science behind the experiment, check out “Black-hole laser edges closer to testing Hawking” over at NewScientist.
So we’re safe…for now.
The comments about making black holes useful to us, however, do remind me of a certain someone’s time machine…