Project IV: Desktop Black Holes

analog black hole An acoustic horizon in a fluid medium.

Topic description

Black holes are among the most fascinating predictions of Einstein's theory of gravity. Their main characteristic is a "surface of no return" or "event horizon", from behind which even light cannot escape to an outside observer. But even though black holes are known to exist in the universe, it is clearly not easy to do experiments with them.

However, a few years ago it was predicted that many aspects of black holes have an analogue in ordinary fluids and other relatively simple systems, such as Bose-Einstein condensates! In these systems, sound waves get trapped in certain regions of space much like the way in which light gets trapped behind the black hole event horizon. Many aspects of black hole physics, for instance Hawking radiation, can thus be studied directly, in a much simpler setup than that of gravitational physics.

In this project, you will get to learn how these "sonic black holes" resemble real gravitational black holes, and study several aspects of their fascinating physics.


[pdf] Project IV: Desktop Black Holes
Starter notes for 2009/2010

Previous years

Gary Hall talk report
Matthew Jones talk report
Talitha Smith poster talk report
David Stephenson talk report