The benefit of having physicists for friends

It’s great to have friends in useful occupations, be they doctors, lawyers, plumbers, or cooks.  In my case, I have some smart friends who are physicists. Which is great when I read an article like this on Slashdot about how a group of scientists have created a black hole for light, because I can ask them: should I be concerned? And they can reply:

…it’s an analog of a gravitational black hole rather than the real thing.

If it were a gravitational black hole, my answer to you would be: Yes, Worry! That’s because all matter responds to the gravitational field. In this case, the hole would start absorbing everything that came within its radius, and that radius would expand as a hole grew. The radius could in principle and rapidly grow large enough to absorb the entire earth!

But happily this particular analog affects only light, so all other kinds of matter are unaffected — including the device that is creating the effect.

Moreover, the actual analog “black hole” has a relatively small radius, so the only light it affects will be light that finds itself within the device.

All in all, it’s safe enough then…

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