Professor Stephen Hawking has told the BBC that he believes the energy emitted from a mini black hole could provide the world with all of its energy requirements. However, harnessing the 10 million megawatts of energy from a black hole could destroy humanity in the process.
Giving a lecture on BBC Radio 4, Hawking said that mini black holes could solve the never ending demand/supply problem we currently have with energy, and create a much greener planet.
On the second Reith lecture on BBC Radio 4, Professor Hawking explained that in the presence of a black hole, a member of a pair of virtual particles could fall into the hole, leaving the other member without a partner ‘with which to annihilate’. According to Hawking, the ‘forsaken’ particle or antiparticle could enter the black hole after its partner, or escape where it would ‘reappear’ as radiation.
In previous statements, Professor Hawking found that a black hole can create and emit particles and radiation at a temperature which is relative to gravity on the surface while being inversely proportional to its mass. Hawking further added that a black hole with the mass of the sun could leak particles at such a slow rate that it would become nearly impossible to detect. However, Professor Hawking suggests that much smaller black holes, with the mass of a mountain, for example, could be detectable and usable.
‘A mountain-sized black hole would give off X-rays and gamma rays, at a rate of about 10 million megawatts, enough to power the world’s electricity supply,’ Professor Hawking said.
‘It wouldn’t be easy, however, to harness a mini black hole. You couldn’t keep it in a power station because it would drop through the floor and end up at the center of the Earth. ‘If we had such a black hole, about the only way to keep hold of it would be to have it in orbit around the Earth.’
According to Professor Hawking, scientists have searched for mini black holes of this mass for years, but to no avail, saying that: ‘This is a pity, because if they had I would have got a Nobel Prize.’
Professor Hawking proposes that it may be possible to create micro-black-holes in extra dimensions of space/time.
‘According to some theories, the universe we experience is just a four-dimensional surface in a ten or eleven-dimensional space,’ Professor Hawking explained.
‘We wouldn’t see these extra dimensions because light wouldn’t propagate through them but only through the four dimensions of our universe.’
‘Gravity, however, would affect the extra dimensions and would be much stronger than in our universe. This would make it much easier to form a little black hole in the extra dimensions.’
Interestingly, we could actually see if the theories proposed by Professor Hawking are correct at the Large Hadron Collider, at CERN in Switzerland. There, some of the collisions could create micro black holes which would then radiate particles in a pattern that would be easily recognizable by scientists.
‘So I might get a Nobel Prize after all,’ concluded Professor Hawking.
However, many others believe that CERN is playing with dangerous and unexplored territories in science if researchers lose control on their projects.