Robert Krulwich made my ride home today way more interesting than it had a right to be.
If you haven’t heard it already, check out his piece on how to build your own universe. It includes implausible (but cute) sound effects for watermelons being squeezed into tiny little black holes.
The basic idea behind the DIY universe is to start small (with a tiny little black hole) and then harness a “repulsive force” to blow it up like a big inflatable raft (only moreso). Astrophysics folks are tempted by the non-zero probability that this could actually be done, not to mention the fact that getting it to work would be undeniably cool.
True to form, I’m worrying about the details of doing this safely. What special precautions does one need to take with a tiny little black hole? (Is it safe to keep it in a fume hood, say?) And what kind of facilities ought one to have in place before pulling the ripcord and expanding your universe?
I don’t want to be a buzzkill here — I’m sure it would be more exciting to throw together a universe before your Institutional Review Board has any idea that you’re even thinking about it — but I’d hate for people to get hurt in the process (at least unnecessarily).