Could we use a miniature black hole as a power source ?
Black holes are conventionally seen as extraordinarily dangerous and destructive phenomena, but what if we could harness their immense energy output and put it to good use ?
This was one of the concepts put forward by Professor Stephen Hawking during his second Reith lecture on BBC Radio 4 this week.
“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,” he 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 centre 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.”
Even if we could find and harness the power of one of these miniature black holes however we would need to be extremely careful as one wrong move could potentially end in disaster.
So far though, despite years of searching, scientists have yet to discover one.
“This is a pity, because if they had I would have got a Nobel Prize,” Hawking quipped.