Superfluid helium behaves like black holes | Science News


Science News is a nonprofit.

Support us by subscribing now.


Superfluid helium behaves like black holes

A frictionless form of helium appears to follow the same counterintuitive ‘area law’ as black holes

11:13am, March 16, 2017
superfluid helium

ENTANGLEMENT EDICT  Superfluid helium follows a bizarre rule of physics. The information in a system — entropy — increases with the surface area of the system not with the volume. In simulations of the superfluid, the entropy of atoms (blue) entangled with one another (green) increases with the surface area of the sphere of particles (gray).

NEW ORLEANS — Black holes and superfluids make for strange bedfellows: One is famous for being so dense that light can’t escape, and the other is a bizarre liquid that flows without friction. But new computer simulations confirm that superfluid helium follows an unusual rule known from black holes — one with mysterious significance for physics.

Scientists demonstrated that entropy, a measure of the information contained in a system, behaves in a counterintuitive way in superfluid helium. Entropy grows at the same rate as the surface area of the superfluid helium, instead of its volume — mimicking how the entropy of a black hole grows as it gobbles up matter and expands. It’s the first time the phenomenon, known as the "area law," has been demonstrated in simulations of a naturally occurring state of matter. Physicists reported the result March 14 at a meeting

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now.
Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content