back to article Artificial 'black hole' generator fashioned out of circuit boards

Chinese scientists have stunned the world of boffinry by fashioning an artificial "black hole" generator out of copper-coated circuit boards. Disappointingly this is not a black hole in the normal sense of a universe-wrackingly dense lump of hypercompressed matter, exerting a gravitational pull so fearsome that not even light …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Radiation Shielding?

    Sounds like this would make good radiation sheilding for a trip to mars.

    1. Ed Blackshaw

      Probably wouldn't work

      As the size of the features which do the absorbing will be realted tot he wavelength of the incident photons, and the dangerous space radiation kind have energies many orders of magnitude higher than microwaves, thus wavelengths smaller than these features can be made.

      1. TimeMaster T

        Also a danger

        Another big danger in space is the cosmic rays, charged particles that can do a hell of a lot more damage to tissue than microwaves. It sounds like the EM this would stop could also be blocked by cheaper/lighter shielding.

        I'm sure this stuff will have many interesting applications but whether any will be practical is unknown. Still cool

  2. Rich Harding
    Thumb Up

    "terrifying yet unambiguously newsworthy apocalypse incident"

    Class :)

  3. DrStrangeLug


    Can you stick one of these in your car and not trigger a speed camera?

    1. Anonymous Coward


      But why stop there? I intend to put mine on the roof of my house so I don't have to pay council tax!

      I even took it with me to McDonald's where they said I could eat for free.

      When I first got it from china, I was made out of wood and string, now I'm a real boy!

    2. Hedley Phillips

      No but...

      driving below the speed limit will.


  4. SlabMan

    Visible spectrum absorption

    "Possible visual-spectrum successors would appear as a black blob to the human eye rather than being invisible."

    I believe a coating with similar properties used to be popular for manufacturing wall-mounted writing surfaces once used in school classrooms. Its stealth properties could be modified by the application of calcium carbonate pressed into stick form.

  5. Lonesome Twin


    Just need to point out that not all us know what a 'metamaterial' is, tho copper doesn't seem to fit the Star Trek connotations. Does this meta-ness confer the healing properties associated with copper wrist bands in the Pagan mind for instance? Someone help me out here?

    1. frank ly

      See how easy enlightenment can be?

      1. Ed Blackshaw

        Great minds think alike...

        ...and fools seldom differ.

    2. Ed Blackshaw

      Here you go

      The wikifiddlers have this one covered:

  6. Pyers


    Sounds fascinating, but 'microwave' covers a pretty broad chunk of electromagnetic spectrum. Would be interested to know over what band of frequencies this device works efficiently.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Invisible eh?

    Crank up the power of the radar emitter and burn the suckers, that's what I would say.

    1. TimeMaster T


      Then hit them with a Sidewinder or other heat tracker!

  8. Eddie Edwards
    Thumb Up

    Black paint

    "It also seems worth noting that a device able to convert visible light into heat with high efficiency might seriously improve the performance of solar power apparatus."

    What, you mean like black paint?

    1. Trevor 10


      except black paint would absorb the light across it's entire surface which means the heat at any given point isn't going to be that much higher than ambient temperature.

      This device would take all the light hitting the surface, and delivery to a small point in the center where it is converted to heat. It's the same amount energy as the black paint object, but the temperature gradient with the ambient temperature would be higher and so useful for doing work , such as with a Stirling Engine.

      1. Freddie


        So lots of mirrors and a tiny spec of black paint then? See the "power tower" on wikipedia:

        Job done.

        1. Ed Blackshaw

          Like that

          but without the gurt big tower and frangible mirrors

      2. ElReg!comments!Pierre

        Oh it will heat alright

        «except black paint would absorb the light across it's entire surface which means the heat at any given point isn't going to be that much higher than ambient temperature.»


        On a sunny days you can boil water using only black paint and insulation. Very simple really. Take a clear glass bottle, paint half of it in black (along the height), lay it in a box of sand, half-burried, black half at the bottom. Cover with a glass plate, place in the sun a 3 pm, your water will be ready for the proverbial 5 o'clock.

        I tried it back in the days of my innocent youth. Naver made any tea that way though, for 2 reasons. I was too young to drink tea, and I never found a bottle that didn't burst open under the pressure. Even the cider bottle caps popped, and these can take a lot of pressure. Back then sandy tea was not desirable. Nowadays, given the carbon-conscious fashion, you could maybe get people to actually drink it if you emphasize the "green" side enough.

  9. Harry

    I refuse to believe ...

    ... that a black hole genuinely exists, until such time as I can see it with my own eyes.

    1. asiaseen

      You need

      a Playmobil re-construction then?

  10. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD

    Err.. was this done before?

    USS Eldridge, 1943?

    1. karl 15


      No the USS Eldridge was testing Degaussing to stop magnetic mines

  11. Anonymous Coward

    "Possible visual-spectrum successors"

    We have them already, shirley? - otherwise known as walls or cunningly fasioned fabrics (or cloaks) designed to absorb light, no?

    I'll get my visual-spectrum successor.

  12. Arkasha
    Thumb Up

    Speed cameras

    Should work on Gatso cameras if I covered my car in it....

  13. Ian Ferguson

    Might get a bit toasty

    A spy plane that absorbs all microwave radiation and converts it to heat might get a little problematic :)

    1. I didn't do IT.
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Toasty

      Unless, of course, the vehicle used some of that energy for propulsion, internal power (to compensate for smaller batteries), stored chemically for weapons systems, etc.

      If you have a high enough differential, there's all sorts of uses for excess heat energy. ;)

      Paris, because she knows all about generating focused heat to an internal core.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wifi powered room heaters, anyone?

    Or bum off of the nearest FM tower or something. This is 99% efficiency, man.

  15. Scott 19

    Could be handy

    Make a cloak out of it and it'll help when the husband gets home and i'm sneaking through the back garden, yes he'll see a black blob running across the garden but it sure beats a naked man.

  16. Remy Redert

    re: Radiation shielding

    This would, in fact, most likely be worse than nothing for radiation shielding against solar and cosmic radiation.

    Why? Because most of that is not in the form of photons, but in the form of really fast moving charged particles. Which have the highly annoying tendency of producing hard X-rays when they impact on anything metal.

    The best way to stop them is something with lots of hydrogen in it, like water, certain plastics and ceramics.

    The worst way to stop them is anything metallic.

    1. NumptyScrub

      cosmic radiation shielding

      So fast-moving charged particles strike a metal surface (which is tuned to absorb the EM range associated with hard X-rays), and produce hard X-rays, all the incident ones of which are absorbed by the surface and converted to heat, which is then likely to be emitted as IR.

      Don't see the issue myself, you could use one as interplanetary shielding without too much faffing about, as long as the sizing for X-ray absorbers doesn't cause it's own problems :)

  17. grimreality


    in a terrifying yet unambiguously newsworthy apocalypse incident

    in a terrifying yet unambiguously newsworthy apocalyptic incident

    This won't happen anyway as everyone who has an education will be privy to the fact that the world will end in December 2012. Which is also the reason I don't understand everyone getting so upset and over excited about the cost of the Olympics. The world will not be around so the cost won't matter.

    1. Ed Blackshaw

      Surely the 2012 Olympics

      IS the end of the world?

  18. Anonymous Coward

    Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder

    Another fiction becoming reality?

    So we have a meta-material substance that absorbs all light ground into a fine power.

    Anyway this substance already exists, its called black photocopier toner.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      A Colossal Fiction ...... Turing's Magical Mystery AIdDiscovery?

      "Another fiction becoming reality?" ... Anonymous Coward Posted Thursday 3rd June 2010 13:36 GMT

      That got me thinking further, AC.

      If there were no words printed, would reality be totally different, ..... ergo is reality scripted for thoughts to follow and create/reverse engineer what is in essence and physicality/actuality, Virtual Reality, ....... for take away everything artificial/man-made/machine built, and one is as naked as a JBird in a Natural Paradise ..... Perfumed Garden of Eden, and one can then build everything again with Beta Imaginanation Shared in Words.

      For a Second Chance ..... Knowing what's Coming.

  19. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

    Implications for the stealth-shed

    I'm a little concerned that any radar-guided shed-seeking missiles might have a heat-seeker backup. Now the thermal signature of my kettle should be quite hard to lock onto, but once the targetting radar has started heating up my shed's copper coating - then I'm going to stand out like a sore thumb on infra-red...

    Can a bonfire be used as some sort of missile decoy?

    Visual camouflage is the least of one's worries. All you have to do is not mow the lawn for a few years, and the shed will magically disappear.

    Obviously an underground volcano would be better, but a grass-covered stealth-shed is surely the next best thing.

    1. I didn't do IT.

      Re: Guided missile response system

      Surely with all this heat generated (including from ambient microwave radiation we are bombarded with all the time) this heat might be stored for just such an occasion?

      Most missile systems (the missile itself, usually) don't do well when bombarded with concentrated IR radiation, and at a certain point and beyond you burn out the detector. ;)

  20. heyrick Silver badge

    Was this for real...

    ...or did an expensive circuit just go "fphhhut!" and they needed a really good excuse to explain why?

  21. Charles 9 Silver badge

    Passive radar.

    Microwave-absorbing materials may do wonders against active radar installations (since they lose their return signals, but isn't there increasing research into the realm of multistatic passive radars that work by tracking occlusion (and thus would cause radar-absorbing craft like stealth planes to stick out on the imagers black holes)?

  22. Anonymous Coward

    blackest blob

    the darkest optical thing I ever saw was the batch hydrising furnace for surface modification , pre-final sharpening of about a billion razor blades. The blades were vertically & horizontally stacked sharp edge pointing outwards and had a very low albedo. This system was being built in Hope in the wilds of Derbyshire.

  23. Visual Echo

    Goths rejoice

    Black just got blacker. Can I get a leather jacket that does this?

  24. lglethal Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Why be all difficult with possible applications?

    This is obviously a perfect, cheap, all weather conditions heating element. Even in the worst weather (cloudy, rainy, etc.) infrared radiation still exists in abundance and so one of these absorbing energy and then pumping it into a house could be a very cheap way to heat the house with no reliance on fossil fuels.

    Obviously depends on size, heat output, scalability, etc, but why go all complex with radar invisbility when theres a simple problem that this could be the solution too. Plus being a "green" technology, its sure to get billions in government funds to pursue...

  25. Luther Blissett

    Never in the field of undetectable sheds...

    lol. Especially in virtual apposition to the no longer detectable church on the hill.

  26. Stewart Haywood

    Many years ago .........

    when I was young and the world was new, we used microwave lenses as parts of antenna systems. Some of these used large chunks of dielectric material (perspex was a good one at the time) shaped like a lens to focus a plane wave onto a point (usually a small horn). Others used a number of anular metal plates of different lengths to focus a plane wave to a point. Antennas like this could also be used as passive repeaters. It is always a good idea with things like this to ensure a good match between the system and free space so as to capture the max amount of energy. Used at 2GHz, these things stood out like a sore thumb at light frequencies but, at 2GHz, would look like a black hole.

    There is nothing new about the basic idea here. The main change is that as the frequency increases, things get a bit smaller. Bandwidth of things like this is a bit of a problem, but then, designing anything to work from DC to light is not simple.

    1. Disco-Legend-Zeke

      While Reading...

      ...the description in the article, the word "antenna" immediately popped into my coffee-logged brain.

      I guess you had the same flash, Stewart. Thanks for your post. While the mentioned device may demonstrate advanced engineering, it is hardly an invention.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  27. Stevie


    So then, invisible to everything unless you look at the infrared.

    Exactly how long can this shed stealther run before the shed's occupants are incinerated?

  28. iRadiate

    Frozen chicken alternative ?

    Can't we simply cover aircraft with frozen chickens to make them invisible?

    Every time I stick a frozen chicken in my microwave oven it absorbs the microwaves which then get converted into heat and the chicken cooks from the inside. Sounds similar to this metamaterial stuff

    Seems to me that frozen chickens would be an alternative to all this hi-tech malarky of creating black holes.

    Sticking frozen chickens on the outside of bombers will also have the added benefit of having a meal ready for the pilots when they get back from their mission. In fact I think we could go the whole way and have a complete 3 course meal attached to the outside.

  29. JP19


    Since this is truly true, I hope this means I will have a cold fusion (which is true too) home power generator soon. ha

  30. wsm

    Free heat, just a few payments away.

    I can imagine anyone who lives near an airport getting free heat for the winter months. If the reverse could be done, like Servel refrigerators, they could chill their veggies also.

    Too bad the expense of a conversion kit for the central heating would probably limit this to government projects.

  31. ElReg!comments!Pierre


    You could make planes invisible to radars, or missiles invisible to radars. These would also qualify as the first planes (or missiles) that spontaneoulsy burst in flames above airfields. Now the RAF types will learn the _real_ meaning of "hard-boiled".

    Invisible icon.

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Round we go again.....

      "Arrrrrrrgggggghhhhhh, all the enemy's planes are invisible to our missile systems, what are we going to do?"

      "Well, if we had lots of blokes in small, fast aeroplanes they could look out of the windows and shoot down the opposition using visual targetting. We could call them 'fighter squadrons' and give them machine guns or small calibre cannon......"

  32. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

    Lieutenant, I've got a chunk of absolutely nothing on my scope...

    ... at

    Bearing: 247 degrees

    Range: somewhere between our antenna and that mountain chain

    Speed: Mach 1.26

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    A better frequency jammer?

    So, it's just a frequency jammer that jams a whole range of frequencies instead of just one. What's new?

    Black heli, I think I know what the Chinese government will use it for.

  34. Stephen Blake

    not a good plan...

    Putting this on a spy plane would be worse than painting it with fluorescent paint.

    Converting the radiation to heat means that to a sidewinder or other IR based system, this plane will be illuminating itself, thus making it an easy target.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like