Researchers are unlikely to travel to a black hole any time soon, but they have managed to recreate a bit of one in the lab.
Ulf Leonhardt of the University of St Andrew's, UK, and his colleagues made an artificial event horizon — the point beyond which nothing can escape — inside a fibre-optic cable. The cable was designed such that its optical properties would be altered by an ultrashort pulse of light. A beam of light on the same strand experienced the equivalent of an event horizon as it travelled near the first flash.
The authors hope that the system can be used to recreate Hawking radiation, a glow believed to surround real black holes as a result of quantum effects.