Researchers create metamaterial that looks similar to 3D Minkowski spacetimes

Feb 01, 2013 by Bob Yirka report
(a) Schematic view of the experimental setup. (b) Photo of the ferrofluid metamaterial sample next to a permanent magnet. The inset shows excessive ferrofluid on the side of the cuvette, which forms “spikes” along the applied magnetic field. Credit: arXiv:1301.6055 [physics.optics]

(Phys.org)—Researchers from the University of Maryland and Towson University have created a new type of metamaterial that they describe as looking similar to 3D Minkowski spacetimes. In their paper, which they've uploaded to the preprint server arXiv, the researchers explain how the metamaterial can be adjusted to create a demonstration of a multiverse.

Because the exact definition of a universe is difficult to pin down, it's difficult to say whether the creation of a metamaterial that acts the same as a theoretical universe, is an actual universe if it follows the same rules. And if that metamaterial is capable of demonstrating different types of universes, with and rules that govern how things behave in them, is it a true , or simply a simulation of one?

In the case of the metamaterial made by the researchers in Maryland, the answer might lie in the eye of the beholder. They created a solution that had cobalt suspended in , than applied a . Because cobalt is ferromagnetic, the applied field caused the cobalt to line up in columns. But not just ordinary columns, they were mathematically equivalent to a 2+1 Minkowski spacetime. Light passing through the columns has one dimension of time, while light aligned perpendicular to the columns has two dimensions of space. In this configuration, light behaves according to Einstein's , which means, it might be construed to be its own unique universe, albeit, analogous to the one we perceive around us. But the researchers didn't stop there, they found that by varying the amount of in the fluid, they were able to cause different types of columns to form, , and reform, which don't necessarily conform mathematically to the laws governing our own universe, but do for others, at least in theory. This meant they had created a metamaterial that was able to look like different universes at different moments over time. And if it looked like them, and acted like them, who's to say that each wasn't a unique existence of a true universe?

The researcher's aren't arguing about whether they've created universes in their lab, however, instead, they are demonstrating a new kind of metamaterial that might prove useful in studying how the laws of physics might look in other universes – something that most anyone in the field would have to concede is a very useful thing.

Explore further: Spin-based electronics: New material successfully tested

More information: Experimental demonstration of metamaterial multiverse in a ferrofluid, arXiv:1301.6055 [physics.optics] arxiv.org/abs/1301.6055

Abstract
Extraordinary light rays propagating inside a hyperbolic metamaterial look similar to particle world lines in a 2+1 dimensional Minkowski spacetime [1]. Magnetic nanoparticles in a ferrofluid are known to form nanocolumns aligned along the magnetic field, so that a hyperbolic metamaterial may be formed at large enough nanoparticle concentration nH. Here we investigate optical properties of such a metamaterial just below nH. While on average such a metamaterial is elliptical, thermal fluctuations of nanoparticle concentration lead to transient formation of hyperbolic regions (3D Minkowski spacetimes) inside this metamaterial. Thus, thermal fluctuations in a ferrofluid look similar to creation and disappearance of individual Minkowski spacetimes (universes) in the cosmological multiverse. This theoretical picture is supported by experimental measurements of polarization-dependent optical transmission of a cobalt based ferrofluid at 1500 nm.

via Arxiv Blog

Related Stories

Metamaterials used to mimic the Big Crunch

Jul 29, 2011

Spacetime analogs is an emerging field of physics in which scientists investigate systems having mathematical links with general relativity, and test their theories about the early behavior of the universe. The latest in ...

Physicists Calculate Number of Parallel Universes

Oct 16, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Over the past few decades, the idea that our universe could be one of many alternate universes within a giant multiverse has grown from a sci-fi fantasy into a legitimate theoretical possibility. ...

Recommended for you

50-foot-wide Muon g-2 electromagnet installed at Fermilab

9 hours ago

One year ago, the 50-foot-wide Muon g-2 electromagnet arrived at the U.S. Department of Energy's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois after traveling 3,200 miles over land and sea from Long Island, ...

Spin-based electronics: New material successfully tested

Jul 30, 2014

Spintronics is an emerging field of electronics, where devices work by manipulating the spin of electrons rather than the current generated by their motion. This field can offer significant advantages to computer technology. ...

User comments : 6

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Raygunner
5 / 5 (1) Feb 01, 2013
I'm not sure if I get this - this is just an illusion correct? It sounds like the molecules are simply lumping together differently under the influence of the magnetic field, and along the field lines, in the kerosene fluid. I'm sure the kerosene and cobalt molecules, and the magnetic field lines of force interacted some way to create these columns based on the molecular shapes, kind of like Lego's. Just a layman's 2 cents.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Feb 01, 2013
I'm not sure if I get this - this is just an illusion correct?

The have a substance which can - dependingon the field applied - cause light to behave acording to different 'physics' (I use 'physics' in quotes her, because it's all our everyday physics - but the different state alter the amount of spatial dimensions in which the light can propagate. So in one setting it's 2D plus time and in another it's 3D plus time). In the fluid it's even more complex since the 2D plus time areas are local and appear and disappear with the thermal fluctuations (if I read the arxiv-article right)
They sent circular polarized, monochromatic light in - and depending on the field applied - only one polarization direction is allowed in some areas. The larger the field the more/larger such restrictive areas exist at any one time (and hence the more of the emerging light is registred as linearly polarized)
ant_oacute_nio354
1.7 / 5 (11) Feb 01, 2013
Spacetime and multiverse do not exist.

Antonio Saraiva
rkolter
not rated yet Feb 01, 2013
@Raygunner - Metamaterials can bend light in interesting ways that happen to have a mathematical similarity to how light bends in spacetime. What these people have done is to create random fluxuations in their material such that different areas of the material momentarily steer light in different ways. This is in some ways similar to creating multiple universes. Their "metamaterial universes" are 3 dimensional (2 space, 1 time). So no, it is not an ILLUSION... but they're also not universes as you've ever experienced them.
Tektrix
5 / 5 (4) Feb 01, 2013
Spacetime and multiverse do not exist.

Antonio Saraiva


Why should we believe you?
vacuum-mechanics
1.8 / 5 (5) Feb 01, 2013
The researcher's aren't arguing about whether they've created universes in their lab, however, instead, they are demonstrating a new kind of metamaterial that might prove useful in studying how the laws of physics might look in other universes – something that most anyone in the field would have to concede is a very useful thing.

This seems interesting; anyway before looking in other universes, maybe it is helpful to visualize clearly how the conventional Minkowski space-time 'physically' looks like as the view below.
http://www.vacuum...=7〈=en