January 31, 2013
Researchers at the University of Maryland, College Park and Towson University are reporting that they have created multiple universes inside a laboratory-created multiverse — a world first.
To be exact, the researchers created a metamaterial — like those used to fashion invisibility cloaks — that, when light passes through it, multiple universes are formed within it. These universes, called Minkowski spacetimes, are similar to our own, except they more neatly tie up Einstein’s theory of special relativity by including time as a fourth dimension.
While this is rather extraordinary, the experimental setup is actually quite simple — though definitely rather unconventional. The multiverse is created inside a solution of cobalt in kerosene. This fluid isn’t usually considered a metamaterial, but lead researcher Igor Smolyaninov and co found that by applying a magnetic field, the ferromagnetic nanoparticles of cobalt line up in neat columns. When light passes through these columns, it behaves as if it’s in a Minkowski universe.