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Hunting Hidden Dimensions

Black holes, giant and tiny, may reveal new realms of space

By
1:06pm, September 11, 2009

In many ways, black holes are science’s answer to science fiction. As strange as anything from a novelist’s imagination, black holes warp the fabric of spacetime and imprison light and matter in a gravitational death grip. Their bizarre properties make black holes ideal candidates for fictional villainy. But now black holes are up for a different role: heroes helping physicists assess the real-world existence of another science fiction favorite — hidden extra dimensions of space.

Astrophysical giants several times the mass of the sun and midget black holes smaller than a subatomic particle could provide glimpses of an extra-dimensional existence.

Out in space, astrophysicists are looking hard to see if large black holes are shrinking on a time scale that might be detected by modern telescopes. If so, it might mean the black holes are evaporating into extra dimensions.

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