Can we artificially create a black hole?

Asked by Guy Iles

In theory, to make a black hole all we would need to do would be to compress a huge amount of matter and energy into a tiny amount of space. In practical terms, however, this is incredibly difficult.

There is much disagreement about the minimum size a black hole can be, and standard physics offers different answers to more exotic ‘multi-dimensional’ physics.

Einstein said that mass and energy are equivalent – you can turn mass into energy and energy into mass – so very high energy particles smashing together could potentially lead to the creation of a black hole. However, the energy required for this would be the equivalent to taking the mass of a mountain range and converting it into energy. For reference, a nuclear weapon only releases the energy of a few grams worth of matter.

So even the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, with its particles traveling at close to the speed of light will not, under standard physics, be able to create a black hole.

Answered by Sophie Allan, National Space Academy Education Officer for the National Space Centre