Table-top astrophysics: How to build a multiverse
March 20, 2013 Editor 0
THE heavens do not lend themselves to poking and prodding. Astronomers therefore have no choice but to rely on whatever data the cosmos deigns to throw at them. And they have learnt a lot this way. Thus you can even (see article) study chemistry in space that would be impossible in a laboratory. Some astronomers, though, are dissatisfied with being passive observers. Real scientists, they think, do experiments.It is impossible—not to mention inadvisable—to get close enough to a star or a black hole to manipulate it experimentally. But some think it might be possible to make meaningful analogues of such things, and even of the universe itself, and experiment on those instead.Ben Murdin of the University of Surrey, for example, has been making white dwarfs. A white dwarf is the stellar equivalent of a shrunken but feisty old-age pensioner. It has run out of fuel and is contracting and cooling as it heads towards oblivion—but taking its time about it. As they shrink white dwarfs pack a mass up to eight times the…
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