Dartmouth researchers say they may be able to do it.
Writing in Physical Review Letters, they propose a new way of creating reproduction black holes in the laboratory on a much-tinier scale than their science-fiction staples.
The new method, if it works, would create tiny quantum-sized black hole and allow researchers to better understand what physicist Stephen Hawking proposed more than 35 years ago; that black holes are not totally void of activity, they emit photons, what is now called Hawking radiation.
This is not the first theory on how to create an imitation black hole. Other proposed analogue schemes have considered using supersonic fluid flows, ultracold bose-einstein condensates and nonlinear fiber optic cables.
"Hawking famously showed that black holes radiate energy according to a thermal spectrum," said Paul Nation, an author on the paper and a graduate student at Dartmouth. "His calculations relied on assumptions about the physics of ultra-high energies and quantum gravity. Because we can't yet take measurements from real black holes, we need a way to recreate this phenomenon in the lab in order to study it, to validate it."
In their paper, the researchers say that a magnetic field-pulsed microwave transmission line containing an array of superconducting quantum interference devices, or SQUIDs, can not only reproduce physics analogous to that of a radiating black hole, but do so in a system where the high energy and quantum mechanical properties are well understood and can be directly controlled in the laboratory.
Their paper states, "Thus, in principle, this setup enables the exploration of analogue quantum gravitational effects."
"We can also manipulate the strength of the applied magnetic field so that the SQUID array can be used to probe black hole radiation beyond what was considered by Hawking," said Miles Blencowe, another author on the paper and a professor of physics and astronomy at Dartmouth.
The predicted Hawking radiation in previous efforts was incredibly weak or otherwise masked by commonplace radiation due to unavoidable heating of the device, making the Hawking radiation very difficult to detect. "In addition to being able to study analogue quantum gravity effects, the new, SQUID-based proposal may be a more straightforward method to detect the Hawking radiation," says Blencowe.
In addition to Nation and Blencowe, other authors on the paper include Alexander Rimberg at Dartmouth and Eyal Buks at Technion in Haifa, Israel.