Build Your Own Black Hole

Okay, perhaps the title here is a bit of an exaggeration, but this black hole lamp made by [Will Donaldson] is an interesting approach to creating a black hole simulation without destroying the earth. This lamp uses a ring of LEDs surrounding a piece of black Lycra. A motor in the lamp base pulls the Lycra, representing the distorting effect that a singularity has on space-time. It also demonstrates how black holes can (in theory) evaporate by emitting radiation, a phenomenon called Hawking radiation. It’s a simple, but effective approach that physicists have used to demonstrate gravity for some time, using stretch fabric to simulate space-time and show how gravity warps it. It’s a two-dimensional version of a three (or more) dimensional phenomenon, but it works. And, hopefully, it won’t swallow the planet and destroy us all like the real thing might.

It’s a bit bare-bones at the moment: although the copper pipes give it a certain steampunk feel, I would probably consider covering the mechanism with black material to focus more on the simulation itself. [Will] gives you the full details on how he built it (including parts, code and all) in the Instructable so it might be a good place to start if you are looking for a way to get your brain around the wild and wacky world of singularities.

23 thoughts on “Build Your Own Black Hole

  1. Anyone else really frustrated by the almost absurdist need to put a stepper or servo into every project these days? for christ’s sake, it wasnt even automatic, he still turned a knob to draw the string in. you seriously couldn’t just wind it around a pulley?

    1. The pot controls the intensity of the LEDs – the brighter they are the quicker the motor pulls the line; meant to represent the black hole growing faster because brighter LEDs = more matter to consume.

      RIF.ORG – unless you enjoy the taste of your own feet. ;)

      1. Richard’s project looks nice, so I want to clarify: this comment isn’t about his work, but generally speaking.
        everything today has a video, even the installation instruction for some network device i bought recently is on youtube.
        Why? Why do so few see the gravity (hehe) of some really good photos and text?

        1. Probably reaches more people this way, also easier to monetize maybe. I do agree that certain things are just better in text. Nothing is more annoying than watching a 4 minute video on YouTube explaining to to fix a computer setting thing which could have been accomplished in 10 seconds by 2 sentences. Extra points for YouTube videos of people just typing instructions into notepad in real time.

    1. Hi, creator of the video here, thanks for the feedback! You are right, rewatching the video I focused too much on the stretching of the black fabric and neglected to demonstrate the true purpose of the lamp: to be used as a light source! (And in hindsight I probably should have placed the LEDs facing outwards instead of inwards for maximum brightness). I’ll keep it in mind for future videos to try encapsulating all elements of the projects functionality.

    2. All i see is a string pulling on black fabric, and they call it a “black hole” did anyone ever think do demonstrate the “Black Hole” effect? Exactly! “look what I made, a fabric stretcher! With lights! I’ll call it a Black Hole!”

  2. Black holes would make great kitchen aids. It’s one heck of a garbage disposal. You would only need one normal size atom of matter. Since black holes are so dense.

    1. Why spitting an article for a video that does not even show the lamp ?
      Why commenting on an article for a video that does not even show the lamp ?
      Why the author got paid for an article for a video that does not even show the lamp ?
      And why our time disappeared into this black hole ?

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