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Metamaterials mock the heavens

Physicists could study black holes and chaotic planetary orbits in the laboratory, a team proposes

2:19pm, September 10, 2009

Tiny special materials may mimic astronomical events, including the trapping of light in black holes and the disruption of planetary orbits, a new report in the September Nature Physics proposes. The shape and design of such materials may allow scientists to do previously impossible experiments by replicating aspects of the heavens at the laboratory bench.

“Astrophysicists build a telescope and watch the sky, and if they’re lucky, in their lives, they’ll see one or two events,” says study coauthor Xiang Zhang, of the University of California, Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. &ldquo

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