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Could it really be possible that all particles are mini-black holes? That’s the tantalising suggestion from Donald Coyne from UC Santa Cruz (now deceased) and D C Cheng from the Almaden Research Center near San Jose.

Black holes are regions of space in which gravity is so strong that nothing, not even light, can escape.

The trouble with gravity is that on anything other than an astrophysical scale, it is so weak that it can safely be ignored. However, many physicists have assumed that on the tiniest scale, the Planck scale, gravity regains its strength.

In recent years some evidence to support this contention has emerged from string theory where gravity plays a stronger role in higher dimensional space. It’s only in our four dimensional space that gravity appears so weak.

Since these dimensions become important only on the Planck scale, it’s at that level that gravity re-asserts itself. And if that’s the case, then mini-black holes become a possibility.

Coyne and Cheng ask what properties black holes might have on that scale and it turns out that they may be far more varied than anyone imagined. The quantisation of space on this level means that mini-black holes could turn up at all kinds of energy levels. They predict the existence of huge numbers of black hole particles at different energy level. So common are these black holes that the authors suggest that:

“All particles may be varying forms of stabilized black holes”

That’s an ambitious claim that’ll need plenty of experimental backing. The authors say this may come from the LHC, which could begin to probe the energies at which these kinds of black holes will be produced.

The authors end with the caution that it would be wrong to think of the LHC as a “black hole factory”; not because it won’t produce black holes (it almost certainly will), but because, if they are right, every other particle accelerator in history would have been producing black holes as well.

In fact, if this thinking is correct, there’s a very real sense in which we are made from black holes. Curious!

Ref: arxiv.org/abs/0905.1667: A Scenario for Strong Gravity in Particle Physics: An Alternative Mechanism for Black Holes to Appear at Accelerator Experiments

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