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Hawking radiation in a laboratory!?

January 29, 2019 - 4:00pm
Ted Jacobson
University of Maryland

 Einstein's theory of gravity opened Pandora's box of warped
spacetime in 1915, and out popped the black hole, confusing and
delighting (or maddening) physicists ever since. In the early
1970's it was discovered that black holes have entropy and
temperature, and decay by Hawking radiation like radioactive
whirlpools in the spacetime river. Two persistent puzzles have
resulted from this discovery: the information paradox
and the transPlanckian problem. To bring some of this down to
earth, Unruh in 1980 conceived of a black hole analog, formed by
a quantum fluid, which might one day be studied in a laboratory.
That day has now come...probably. In the last few years, Jeff
Steinhauer has carried out a number of experiments on
Bose-Einstein condensates of rubidium atoms, configured to
emulate a black hole, and reported on the observation of thermal
phononic Hawking radiation and its quantum entanglement with
phonons inside the sonic black hole. In this colloquium I will
describe these ideas and experiments, as well as simulations that
have been carried out in order to help understand what has so far
been observed.

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