Simulating a black hole
40 years ago Stephen Hawking predicted that black holes emit a special kind of radiation. Consequently black holes are theoratically able to shrink and even vanish. This radiation arises when virtual particles (pairs of particles developing because of quantum fluctuations inside the vacuum; usually they nearly instantly destroy each other) are near the event horizon. Then the virtual particle pair gets divided: one disappears in the black hole (and its quantum mechanical information) and the other one becomes real. Thus the black hole radiates but unfortunately this radiation is so low that astronomical observations are nearly impossible.
Therefore scientists have to simulate black holes to get empirical evidence. The physicist Jeff Steinhauer of the Technion, the University of Technology of Haifa in Israel exactly did this. He realized an idea of physicist Bill Unruh with an acoustical event horizon. He uses a fog made of rubidium atoms which is only slightly above the absolute zero. Because they are trapped inside an electromagnetic field these atoms become a Bose-Einstein Condensate. Inside of this condensate the acoustic velocity is only a half millimeter per second. With the help of accelerating some above this speed an artificial event horizon is created. The low temperatures lead to quantum fluctuations: pairs of phonons develop. In the simulation these pairs also get divided: one gets caught by the supersonic event horizon; the other one becomes some kind of Hawking radiation.
It is still not sure if this experiment really simulates black holes. According to Ulf Leonhardt it does not proof for sure that the two phonons are entangled. Thus it is not sure if the pairs arised out of one fluctuation. Leonhardt even doubts that the fog of atoms is a real Bose-Einstein Condensate. Leonard Susskind thinks this experiment does not reveal the mysteries of black holes: for instance it does not explain the information paradox, because acoustic black holes do not destroy information.