Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Science

Lab-Made Fireball May Be a Black Hole 699

Posted by Zonk
from the slurp! dept.
MoogMan writes "BBC News reports that a lab fireball may be a black hole. From the article: "A fireball created in a US particle accelerator has the characteristics of a black hole, a physicist has said. The Brown researcher thinks the particles are disappearing into the fireball's core and reappearing as thermal radiation, just as matter falls into a black hole and comes out as "Hawking" radiation." More information available from the NewScientist article (subscription required)."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Lab-Made Fireball May Be a Black Hole

Comments Filter:
  • Thanks to the devotion of my minions, I'm yeat again a step closer to fulfilling my Earth destruction plan (why am I doing this? Just for fun, you know...).

    Some time ago, I had one of my minions to compose a list of possible ways of destroying the Earth [ucam.org]. Back then, he rated the "microscopic black hole plan" as follows:

    • You will need: a microscopic black hole having enough mass not to evaporate instantly. Creating a microscopic black hole is tricky, since one needs a reasonable amount of neutronium, but may possibly be achievable by jamming large numbers of atomic nuclei together until they stick. This is left as an exercise to the reader.

    • Method: simply place your black hole on the surface of the Earth and wait. Black holes are of such high density that they pass through ordinary matter like a stone through the air. The black hole will plummet through the ground, eating its way to the centre of the Earth and all the way through to the other side: then, it'll oscillate back, over and over like a matter-absorbing pendulum. Eventually it might come to rest at the core due to the resistance of the matter it passes through, but it'll have riddled the planet full of holes long before then. Then you just need to wait, while it sits and consumes matter until the whole Earth is gone.

    • Earth's final resting place: a singularity of almost zero size, which will then proceed to happily orbit the Sun as normal.

    • Feasibility rating: 2/10. Highly, highly unlikely. But not impossible.

    However, now it seems that we're a step closer to accomplishing this, so i might have him revise the list.

  • hmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by ClintJCL (264898) <clintjcl+slashdotNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday March 17, 2005 @01:23PM (#11966286) Homepage Journal
    Does anyone else think assassins should be called in to prevent this experiment from creating a real black hole that swallows up the whole planet in minutes?
    • Re:hmm (Score:5, Funny)

      by Rosyna (80334) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @01:24PM (#11966312) Homepage
      I think professors should be called in to teach you about black holes.
      • Re:hmm (Score:4, Funny)

        by carpe_noctem (457178) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @02:30PM (#11967200) Homepage Journal
        I have a Ph.d, bitch. It's a Pimpin' Ho's Degree, so let me tell YOU about some black ho's!

      • Re:hmm (Score:3, Insightful)

        by JoshRosenbaum (841551)
        I think professors should be called in to teach you about black holes.

        Which one? :) Aren't there a few different theories about black holes? Seems to me that something that warps space/time so drastically that it causes standard equations to get messed up is not something to tread on lightly.

        Now, for my disclaimer so I don't get flamed too bad if I'm out of touch with research here. :) I am not a professor, black hole expert, relativity expert, physics expert, or yadda yadda. This was just my opinion bas
      • Re:hmm (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Omnifarious (11933) <eric-slashNO@SPAMomnifarious.org> on Thursday March 17, 2005 @04:20PM (#11968744) Homepage Journal

        Actually, the interesting thing is that we only have theories about black holes, no direct evidence. Not only that, but black holes push the boundaries of our understanding of physics. AFAIK, we've never directly observed hawking radiation, and so we don't even know that it has to exist. We only theorize that it really should because it fits what we know so far of relativity and quantum mechanics.

        So, if they actually did manage to create a small black hole, and then it evaporate, we have our first direct evidence that hawking radiation is real.

    • Re:hmm (Score:5, Funny)

      by _Sharp'r_ (649297) <sharper.booksunderreview@com> on Thursday March 17, 2005 @01:25PM (#11966327) Homepage Journal
      If so, if we could figure out how many d6 of damage the fireball is doing, that'd give us a good clue as to the level of the caster and thus about how many hit points they have.

      Useful information, you know.
    • Re:hmm (Score:5, Informative)

      by srstoneb (256638) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @01:50PM (#11966694) Homepage
      I know there are a lot of jokes that can be made about the idea of building a black hole in a lab, but I just want to make sure people understand how not-dangerous a tiny black hole would be:

      Black holes do not "suck". Most people -- even most smart people -- have this impression that black holes suck in everything around them with some sort of unstoppable force. This is completely inaccurate.

      Black holes only influence things by their gravity. The force a black hole exerts on another object depends on their masses and the distance between them. Exactly the same as the gravitational force between any other two objects, black hole or no.

      The part that makes black holes weird is that they can be significantly smaller (as measured by their event horizon) than normal objects. So if you've got an object with the mass of the Sun, normally it's quite large, so the distance between you and its center is big, and the gravity can only get so strong. If you compress that mass into a black hole, though, you can get much, much closer to its center. If you're only a few kilometers away from the center of gravity of something with the Sun's mass, *then* the gravity will be really strong.

      When it comes to very small black holes -- especially the type that might be created by a particle accelerator, with masses far less than that of a single atom -- the mass involved is so miniscule that you'd have to get within femtometers or less before the strength of the gravity would even be noticeable.

      Now, *if* black holes were indestructible, eternal objects, then yes, even a small one would eventually pick up enough stray neutrinos to start growing, and could eventually become a threat. But, Hawking radiation takes care of that. In fact, the rate of "evaporation" of a black hole *increases* as the black hole shrinks. So micro-black holes would be very short lived, and, again, therefore not a problem.

      Here's the wikipedia article on Hawking radiation [wikipedia.org] for reference.
      • by defMan (175410)
        Thanks, i needed that. And judging by the comments i am not the only one.
      • Re:hmm (Score:3, Informative)

        by twiddlingbits (707452)
        How extremely short lived? From the Wikipedia article you linked.. So, for instance, a 1 second-lived black hole has a mass of 2.28 × 10E5 kg = 2.05 × 10E22 J = 5 × 10E6 megatons of TNT. The initial power is 6.84 × 10E21 W. In the experiement those holes the create must have lifetimes on the order of fractions of a femtosecond as the mass they are using is on the scale of atomic particles which is a whole lot less tha 10E5 kg. Not to mention the decay energy they give up would be aweso
      • Stable black hole? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Stoutlimb (143245)
        At what point will the black hole absorb more from the particle stream than it loses to hawking radiation? Can this be achieved in a particle accelerator?

        Considering these are quantum issues, what are the odds?
    • Re:hmm (Score:3, Informative)

      by plehmuffin (846742)
      No.

      I believe it was in "A Brief History Of Time" I read that a black hole with the mass of a mountain would emit hawking radiation equivalent to 1000 times humanities combined power output.

      Therefore, you could not artificially create one without having many times humanities power output, as you would have to cram whatever matter you wanted to put into the black hole against the force of all that hawking radiation.

      So I think the earth is safe from these mad scientists. For now.

  • by blake213 (575924) * <blake.reary@gmFREEBSDail.com minus bsd> on Thursday March 17, 2005 @01:23PM (#11966294) Homepage
    "This fireball, which lasts just 10 million, billion, billionths of a second"

    Euh? Does that make it 10 million seconds?

  • by 2.7182 (819680) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @01:23PM (#11966299)
    welcome our new Kwisatz Haderach Blackhole overlord!
  • Hmmm.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gowen (141411) <gwowen@gmail.com> on Thursday March 17, 2005 @01:24PM (#11966302) Homepage Journal
    Except black holes are gravitational beasts, and this doesn't appear to be. It's just an extremely destructive thing. Alternative headline would be :
    Atom smasher smashes atoms
    From the BBC article, it sounds like "could be a black hole" is the simile "behaves a bit like a black hole", that's gotten all out of control.
  • by suso (153703) * on Thursday March 17, 2005 @01:25PM (#11966318) Homepage Journal
    we should all know in about 4.2 minutes whether it is really a black hole or not. It was nice knowing all of you. Thanks for all the fish.
  • by dtfinch (661405) * on Thursday March 17, 2005 @01:25PM (#11966321) Journal
    These tiny blackholes will fall into the core of the earth, and slowly grow one quark at a time, but at an accelerating rate. In a 100 million years or so, it'll come back to haunt the descendents of the super dolphins that'll overthrow the advanced alien race that'll conquer the robots that'll destroy us.
  • by dfn5 (524972) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @01:25PM (#11966324) Journal
    the particles are disappearing into the fireball's core and reappearing as thermal radiation

    The same thing happens when I eat at Taco Bell, but no one has claimed my stomach is a black hole.

    • Your "black hole" is a little farther down. B-)

      (Not strictly a joke, by the way. The literal translation of "black hole" was one of the common euphemisms for the body part in question in Russian, about the time the physics phenomenon was first being figured out. That made it difficult for the Russions to work on it. Black hole research remained out of favor in Russian physics departments until Russian physicists came up with a different term for them.)
  • uh oh (Score:5, Funny)

    by BananaPeel (747003) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @01:25PM (#11966328)
    This sounds familiar....Pass me the crowbar
  • Get the paper here (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 17, 2005 @01:26PM (#11966331)
    The e-print [arxiv.org] of Nastase's paper.
  • I wonder... (Score:3, Funny)

    by gothzilla (676407) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @01:26PM (#11966338)
    if John Titor predicted this...
  • by peculiarmethod (301094) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @01:26PM (#11966343) Journal
    "When the gold nuclei smash into each other they are broken down into particles called quarks and gluons."

    and it also says that at these speeds and energy levels (sorta redundant there), gravity is not a concern for these tiny blackholes. So this is my question: if its not a critical level of mass causing an event horizon, disallowing anything but x-rays and the fore-mentioned radiation to escape.. what exactly is causing these black holes to form? Does it have somethjing to do with the petential energy actualizing on such a large scale? (a sortof critical speed instead of mass)

    someone help!
    • what exactly is causing these black holes to form?

      There is a critical mass for a black hole to form due to gravity, but the key thing here is not mass but density. You crush anything down to a small enough space and it will be come a black hole. The event horizon will be determined by it's gravity and in such examples it may be smaller than an atom. n this case, they've smashed two gold ions together with enough energy that bits of the atoms have reached that critical density and formed a blck hole. This

  • Better explanation: (Score:5, Informative)

    by physicsphairy (720718) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @01:27PM (#11966361) Homepage
    From Physics News Update [aip.org]:

    A puzzling signal in RHIC experiments has now been explained by two researchers as evidence for a primordial state of nuclear matteA puzzling signal in RHIC experiments has now been explained by two researchers as evidence for a primordial state of nuclear matter believed to have accompanied a quark-gluon plasma or similarly exotic matter in the early universe. Colliding two beams of gold nuclei at Brookhaven's Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) in New York, physicists have been striving to make the quark-gluon plasma, a primordial soup of matter in which quarks and gluons circulate freely.

    However, the collision fireball has been smaller and shorter-lived than expected, according to two RHIC collaborations (STAR and PHENIX) of pions (the lightest form of quark-antiquark pairs) coming out of the fireball. The collaborations employ the Hanbury-Brown-Twiss method, originally used in astronomy to measure the size of stars. In the subatomic equivalent, spatially separated detectors record pairs of pions emerging from the collision to estimate the size of the fireball.

    Now an experimentalist and a theorist, both from the University of Washington, John G. Cramer (206-543-9194, cramer@phys.washington.edu) and Gerald A. Miller (206-543-2995, miller@phys.washington.edu), have teamed up for the first time to propose a solution to this puzzle. Reporting independently of the RHIC collaborations, they take into account the fact that the low-energy pions produced inside the fireball act more like waves than classical, billiard-ball-like particles; the pions' relatively long wavelengths tend to overlap with other particles in the crowded fireball environment.

    This new quantum-mechanical analysis leads the researchers to conclude that a primordial phenomenon has taken place inside the hot, dense RHIC fireballs. According to Miller and Cramer, the strong force is so powerful that the pions are overcome by the attractive forces exerted by neighboring quarks and anti-quarks. As a result, the pions act as nearly massless particles inside the medium.

    Such a situation is believed to have existed shortly after the big bang, when the universe was extremely hot and dense. As the pions work against the attraction to escape RHIC's primordial fireball, they must convert some of their kinetic energy into mass, restoring their lost weight. But the pions' experience in the hot, dense environment leaves its mark: the strong attractive force (and the absorption of some of the pions in the collision) would make the fireball appear reduced in size to the detectors that record the pions. According to Miller, looking at the fireball using pions is like looking through a distorted lens: the pions see the radius as about 7 fermi (fm), about the radius of an ordinary gold nucleus, while the researchers deduce the true radius of the fireball to be about 11.5 fm (Cramer, Miller, Wu and Yoon, Phys Rev Lett, tent. 18 March 2005).r believed to have accompanied a quark-gluon plasma or similarly exotic matter in the early universe. Colliding two beams of gold nuclei at Brookhaven's Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) in New York, physicists have been striving to make the quark-gluon plasma, a primordial soup of matter in which quarks and gluons circulate freely.

    However, the collision fireball has been smaller and shorter-lived than expected, according to two RHIC collaborations (STAR and PHENIX) of pions (the lightest form of quark-antiquark pairs) coming out of the fireball. The collaborations employ the Hanbury-Brown-Twiss method, originally used in astronomy to measure the size of stars. In the subatomic equivalent, spatially separated detectors record pairs of pions emerging from the collision to estimate the size of the fireball.

    Now an experimentalist and a theorist, both from the University of Washington, John G. Cramer (206-543-9194, cramer@phys.washington.edu) and Gera

    • Einstein's Bridge (Score:3, Interesting)

      by argent (18001)
      Now an experimentalist and a theorist, both from the University of Washington, John G. Cramer (206-543-9194, cramer@phys.washington.edu)

      For those who aren't SF fans, I believe this is the same John Cramer who wrote the novel _Einstein's bridge_, about interdimensional gateways created by accident in the Superconducting Supercollider. No, not our abandoned project, but the one in a parallel universe where the SSC wasn't cancelled... and is poking holes into our universe in the middle of the empty Texas pra
  • great... (Score:3, Funny)

    by MattW (97290) <matt@ender.com> on Thursday March 17, 2005 @01:33PM (#11966432) Homepage
    I'll sleep soundly tonight knowing the black hole formed in NY is "not thought to pose a threat". Very comforting.
  • by Linuxthess (529239) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @01:33PM (#11966444) Journal
    Here is the proof that time travel is possible; an article posted on April 1st, 2005 has taken a trip thru a blackhole and found itself on posted on March 17, 2005. If my theory holds true, expect April 5th's dupe on tomorrow's Slashdot queue.
  • by eno2001 (527078) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @01:34PM (#11966459) Homepage Journal
    ...cacodaemons and imps start crawling out of your rift in the space time continuum.
  • Reminds me (Score:5, Informative)

    by anvilmark (259376) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @01:34PM (#11966472)
    of the sub-plot in Thrice Upon A Time [amazon.com]
  • by Winterblink (575267) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @01:35PM (#11966480) Homepage
    Hawking: I call it a "Hawking Hole."
    Fry: No fair! I saw it first!
    Hawking: Who is The Journal Of Quantum Physics going to believe?
  • by Lord_Dweomer (648696) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @01:36PM (#11966500) Homepage
    So.....I was wondering if there are any particle physicists around that can explain what the implications of this for us wizards and sorcerors are. Is this cheaper than making a wand of fireballs? Will this enable us to cast fireball before 5th level? Will the damage dice we get to roll?

  • by UnderScan (470605) <jjp6893@nOSPAM.netscape.net> on Thursday March 17, 2005 @01:42PM (#11966581)
    The Brookhaven National Lab located on eastern Long Island, NY gives summer Sunday tours of their facilities [bnl.gov](2004 schedule). If you have the chance, then GO! Seeing RHIC up close if pretty damn cool. I'm no particle physicist but their tours are quite impressive and are given by the researchers themselves. Oh, and yes they have beowulf linux clusters [google.com] too.
  • by radish (98371) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @01:43PM (#11966603) Homepage
    Did no-one pay any attention to SpiderMan 2? I mean I know Kirsten's nipples are distracting and all, but come on - it's all there!
  • by cbelt3 (741637) <cbelt@yaho o . c om> on Thursday March 17, 2005 @01:44PM (#11966605) Journal
    In this case an RTFA and then search for media hysteria relevant to this (Scientists cause End of the Universe, film at 11 !) does less good than bad. You can read Dr. Nastase's paper here [arxiv.org]. While I cannot claim to understand the math, the text provides some clues. The claim presented here is NOT that "A Black Hole Was Formed", and the hysterial headline "Long Island Sucks, and it's gonna kill is all !" is just so much media whoring bullshit. The observations attempted to use existing mathematical models of black hole behaviours and develop an analog for the behaviour of the Quark Gluon Plasma experiment's behavior.

    Want more ? Here is the Home page-Science Lite for the STAR detector [bnl.gov]

    Please note also that Dr. Nastase was beating these same drums back in 99. I expect that this paper is science politics- at that level you don't want anyone to think you were wrong, so you will spend significant effort at proving your predictions right, despite evidence to the contrary. Oh, and he's not even on the project- he's sucking down other people's results after the fact.

  • by Brane (210649) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @01:46PM (#11966643)
    I think this article may be based on a misunderstanding. The paper in question is here [arxiv.org], with the title The RHIC fireball as a dual black hole (my bold).

    If I understand this correctly, the dual is meant in the sense of the "AdS/CFT-correspondence" [wikipedia.org], which is a mathematical correspondence, or "duality" between a gravitational theory (which may contain black holes) and a "Gauge theory" [wikipedia.org], which is the kind of theory that is used to describe quarks, electrons etc.

    The duality means that calculations on black holes may (possibly) be used to understand certain things about this "fireball", but it doesn't mean that the fireball is actually a black hole.

    • by Jerf (17166) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @03:08PM (#11967730) Journal
      This reminds me of something I saw from a while back, the idea of an optical black hole [eurekalert.org].

      Basically, it has nothing to do with gravitational black holes, but the semi-hysterical press stories didn't pick up on that at the time either.

      I'd explain it, but follow the link, or try this one [ex.ac.uk] for something clearer and simpler. I got these links from this search [google.com], but not all the results look relevant. Still, you may be able to find more, at least starting there.
    • Thank you. Yours is one of the more useful comments I've seen on /. From the abstract on the arXiv, I think you're correct. The first sentance of the abstract says, "...he fireball observed at RHIC is (the analog of) a dual black hole." I'd say the words "analog of" are key.

      It's also important in general to remember that things on the arXiv have not yet been peer reviewed. There's still a lot of good work there, but it should be taken with a grain of salt. Even good, legitimate scientists make mi


  • aaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!

    *arms flailing*

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 17, 2005 @01:59PM (#11966815)
    We just discovered how all the black holes in the universe formed...

    Simple

    Making black holes occurs sooner in a species technological advancement than interstellar travel.
  • by UnrefinedLayman (185512) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @02:12PM (#11966969)
    It was my understanding that Hawking radiation is the emission of either a particle or antiparticle from a pair of the two generated just this side of the event horizon of a black hole, where the particle's partner falls into the event horizon and the particle floats on to live another day, appearing as radiation emitting from the black hole. The pair only comes into existence with a boost from the gravity of the black hole.

    If this is done in a particle accelerator, which is a vacuum, and the objects with which we're dealing are gluons and other sub-atomic particles, how can their resultant mass be high enough to generate the requisite gravity for such a thing, and from where is the pair made in the vacuum?

    At the least, shouldn't the other forces override the strength of gravity by an enormous amount?
    • hawking radiation is described in black hole thermodynamics. a black hole eventually will shrink and disappear due to radiation of particles from inside.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      The mass of a black hole doesn't have to be large, if it's a very small black hole. And in certain scenarios, such as those with large extra dimensions, the amount of energy needed to create a microscopic black hole is decreased, basically because gravity becomes comparable in strength to the strong force when you get smaller than the size of the extra dimensions. Hawking radiation from vacuum pair production begins once the black hole is formed.

      Nevertheless, that's not really what's being discussed here
      • Nevertheless, that's not really what's being discussed here.. the paper talks about strong-force physics in the collision which is mathematically "dual" in a certain way to the gravitational description of a black hole.

        Ahh, thanks for the clarification. I hadn't gone to the New Scientist page because it clearly said it was subscription only. The first couple of paragraphs from the paper are at the New Scientist link, for anyone who didn't check.

        The second sentence is "A fireball created in a particle

  • wtf? (Score:5, Funny)

    by mshiltonj (220311) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <jnotlihsm>> on Thursday March 17, 2005 @02:17PM (#11967031) Homepage Journal
    articles are disappearing into the fireball's core and reappearing as thermal radiation

    In technical terms, we call that "burning items to generate heat."
  • by eander315 (448340) * on Thursday March 17, 2005 @02:22PM (#11967085)
    Can we get a picture of this thing please? Thanks!
  • Holy Back in Black (Score:4, Informative)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @02:27PM (#11967154) Homepage Journal
    Brookhaven NL, where the RHIC's new black hole lives, indulged in the possibility of creating a "strange" black hole [kressworks.com] about 6 years ago. 50 miles from NYC. What have they got against us?
  • by The Fun Guy (21791) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @02:40PM (#11967342) Homepage Journal
    "... it is not thought to pose a threat"

    I can't tell you how much better that makes me feel.

    Next you're going to tell me the possibility of a resonance cascade is extremely remote and that you're seeing predictable phase arrays.
  • by Tablizer (95088) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @03:11PM (#11967780) Homepage Journal
    "World-wide catastrophe, *phfff*, don't be ridicu
  • by kortex (590172) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @03:20PM (#11967904)
    Hmmmm...wonder if they could be convinced to move their labs closer to Redmond.....
  • by kbnielsen (835429) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @06:04PM (#11969870)
    Just what they needed to create the quantum computer: A mini black hole as /dev/null
  • by xPsi (851544) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @06:46PM (#11970212)
    Black hole production at RHIC and the various associated doomsday scenarios were discussed back in 1999 in the Jaffe Report [stanford.edu]. The basic message is that production of micro black holes at RHIC is possible, but the cross section is so tiny you would never see a meaningful signal above background. Also, higher energy densities had already been acheived at the Tevetron back in the 90's, so if black holes could be seen at RHIC, they would have already been seen at Fermilab.

    Now, the LHC (Large Hadron Collider [web.cern.ch]), that's a different story. Here the energy density and black hole production cross sections are actually high enough, a black hole production signal could actually be measured [stanford.edu].

    Sadly, in all cases, the black holes evaporate harmlessly.

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.

Working...