Could a black hole be a viable energy source ? Image Credit: NASA / Alain Riazuelo
A new science experiment has supported the idea that it is possible to use a black hole as an energy source.
Few cosmic phenomena remain as frightening and mysterious as black holes - regions of space in which the gravitational pull is so great that nothing, not even light itself, can escape.
But what if it was possible to use black holes as a source of energy ?
50 years ago, mathematical physicist Roger Penrose put forward the notion that there exists a viable mechanism through which a sufficiently advanced civilization could generate power from a black hole by taking advantage of its rotational energy.
The key to this idea lies in the region just outside of a black hole's event horizon where space-time becomes twisted as it's dragged along by the rotation of the black hole - a phenomenon known as frame-dragging.
According to Penrose, if an object is dropped into the region where these forces are greatest, it would be split in two, with one half being thrown beyond the event horizon and the other being accelerated outwards with around 21% more energy than it had when it started.
At the time, proving that this would work wasn't possible, but now a new experiment carried out by scientists at the University of Glasgow's School of Physics and Astronomy has shown that, far from being a work of science-fiction, harnessing energy from a black hole may actually be possible.
Their experiment was based on the work of Soviet physicist Yakov Zel'dovich who in 1971 came up with the idea of substituting a black hole for a rotating cylinder and firing twisted beams of light at it.
In this case however, instead of light, the team used sound waves.
"We're thrilled to have been able to experimentally verify some extremely odd physics a half-century after the theory was first proposed," said physicist Daniel Faccio.
"It's strange to think that we've been able to confirm a half-century-old theory with cosmic origins here in our lab in the west of Scotland, but we think it will open up a lot of new avenues of scientific exploration."
Source: Science Alert | Comments (18)
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