Tech by VICE

Try Not to Get Sucked into This Black Hole Simulation

Black holes are still probably the trippiest mystery of the universe.

by Madison Margolin
Aug 8 2016, 9:14pm

Ever wonder what a black hole actually looks like? There's a lab for that.

In this video, scientists at the Black Hole Laboratory at the University of Nottingham used water, fluorescent dye, a special tank, and engineering acumen to simulate a black hole. Dr. Silke Weinfurtner, university research fellow, explains how scientists at the lab measured black hole conditions.

Engineering a contained black hole rests upon simulating the kinds of movements that surround it in outer space. Various kinds of atmospheric flows occur around the black hole and determine the extent to which nearby objects have the ability to escape—all this depends on the kind of angle, momentum, and style of fluctuation they're moving at. Objects react differently at different places and kinds of "flows" near a black hole before they may become engulfed in it.

A black hole itself is defined as a region in outer space where the gravitational pull is so strong that neither matter, nor radiation can escape it. Anything that crosses the "event horizon" of a black hole needs to travel faster than the speed of light to escape it—which is impossible. Time itself is different near black holes. From the outside, time appears to slow down in proximity to the black hole. And from inside a black hole, gravity acts with infinitely more force upon objects that enters it, thereby destroying them.

Real black holes, of course, are less contained, less controlled, and totally awesome and frightening at the same time.