Superfluid Turbulence Analyzed with Holography and Black Holes
Interesting phenomena can occur at extremes, whether it be extremely high energies or extremely low. One example is superfluids, which will flow as though there is no resistance on them, allowing their movement to continue for years. Researchers have been trying to understand how atoms and molecules move within superfluids, such as liquid helium, for years, and finally those at MIT have had some success with a, perhaps, less than obvious approach.
Holograms are rather interesting images as they can present you with 3D information, while only being 2D. In 1997 it was proposed that this linking of information between a 2D surface and a 3D space could be used to study certain phenomena. More specifically the theory of holographic duality considers a 2D surface which does not experience any gravity and a 3D space which does. Recognizing that 2D superfluids, like those on a flat surface flow without being affected by gravity, the MIT researchers started looking for a 3D space which does experience gravity. They settled on a particular kind of black hole, which has already been extensively studied by others.
After applying holographic duality to translate the black hole's physics to a superfluid, the researchers made the surprising discovery that the internal flows of the 2D fluid, the turbulence, behave in the opposite way normal 2D fluids do. Instead of having small forces eventually gather into larger ones, within a 2D superfluid a larger structure initially exists, which over time breaks apart into smaller ones. This is similar to how cigarette smoke behaves as it disperses into the air.