Inside his lab in Israel, Jeff Steinhauer crafts microscopic black holes. These objects are but humble specks, lacking the spaghettifying suction strength of an actual dead star. But Steinhauer, a physicist at the research university Technion, assures me that he’s constructed them mathematically to scale. Zoom in far enough, and you’ll see a miniature event horizon restaging the drama of a true black hole.
Each of these tiny blobs consists of 8,000 rubidium atoms that Steinhauer has cooled to near absolute zero and then swished around with a laser. Collectively, the atoms weigh about a thousandth of a single bacterium.
At a real black hole, gravity is so strong that once you cross its event horizon, not even light can escape. Steinhauer’s replica, technically called a Bose-Einstein condensate, has the same property but for sound waves. Past a boundary in the blob, no sonic vibrations can escape.