Revisiting the classics
In 1969, physicist Roger Penrose theorized that space civilizations could generate power by hanging objects in a black hole.
For decades, the idea was impossible to test because we have no way of traveling to a black hole, or even surviving the trip. But now a team from the University of Glasgow say they have verified the theory with some modifications, according to research published in the journal Monday. Physics of nature.
It won’t help us generate energy here on Earth, but it is a fascinating illustration of a theory long impossible to think about.
An object submerged at the outer limits of a black hole’s event horizon would essentially charge negative energy, explains a Glasgow press release. By cutting the loose object, some of that energy could be harvested as recoil.
In 1971, physicist Yakov Zel’dovich suggested testing the idea by bouncing twisted light waves from a cylinder that rotates a billion times per second.
That’s too fast to be possible, so the researchers measured the doppler effect of twisted sound waves bouncing off a spinning disk.
As they altered the pitch of the sound waves, the amplitude of the sound also increased, meaning that the sound waves borrowed energy from the disk just like a black hole’s hanging gravity object.
It’s not free electricity, the team still needs to power the spinning disc, but it’s a long-awaited validation for a controversial theory.
READ MORE: The experiment confirms the 50-year theory that describes how an alien civilization could exploit a black hole[[[[Glasgow University]
More about black holes: Astronomers find the closest black hole to Earth, and it’s strange