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Researchers would love to be able to observe the inner workings of black holes, but the measurable information escaping from them is scant. Theory says, for instance, that the Hawking radiation they might release would be so faint that it would disappear in the cosmic microwave background. However, a similar phenomenon could be observed in laboratory analogs of black holes, based on wave phenomena described by the same equations. Writing in Physical Review A, Stefano Finazzi at Université Paris Diderot-Paris 7, France, and Iacopo Carusotto at the University of Trento, Italy, analyze recent controversial claims of Hawking-radiation detection in optical experiments. Their analysis clarifies why such claims are not yet conclusive and suggests how improved experiments may deliver an unequivocal signature of Hawking radiation.

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