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Table-Top Black Hole Can Absorb Light

Illustration for article titled Table-Top Black Hole Can Absorb Light

Scientists have created a table-top-sized black hole that absorbs light. And yet we're still here, and the world hasn't collapsed. Clearly, my high-school science classes did not adequately explain black holes to me.

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The black hole is made from "60 concentrically arranged layers of circuit board," where each layer (actually created of so-called metamaterials) is coated with copper and "etched with intricate structures whose characteristics change progressively from one strip to the next, so that the permittivity varies smoothly." Since I can't even begin to wrap my head around this stuff, I'm going to let the experts explain it:

"When the incident electromagnetic wave hits the device, the wave will be trapped and guided in the shell region towards the core of the black hole, and will then be absorbed by the core," says Cui [one of the inventors]. "The wave will not come out from the black hole." In their device, the core converts the absorbed light into heat.

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As if it weren't badass enough that somebody made a black hole small enough to fit on a table-top, the invention has legitimate real-world applications—most notably in solar energy panels. Think about it: You wouldn't need giant plates to capture the sun if you had a device that attracted light to it. This kind of thing is cool enough to make me want to go back and read more than twelve pages of A Brief History of Time. [New Scientist via Wired]

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DISCUSSION

Damage
Mr. Damage

It's a trap, not a black hole in the classical sense (since gravity is not involved in any way).

If it were a real black hole with gravity so strong that it sucks up everything, we wouldn't be having this conversation. Unless the black holes don't work that way... Or something.