If I told you that scientists have been able to make black holes in their labs for years, you probably either wouldn’t believe me, or would suddenly get exceptionally paranoid. Turns out it’s true, provided you understand a little bit about black holes.
A black hole is, at its most basic, an object that light cannot escape. That’s why it’s “black”: it absorbs all colors of light. That’s really, deep down, all you need in order to have a black hole.
Black holes out in space, as you are likely aware, are the result of collapsed stars. Gather enough mass into a small enough space and, according to general relativity, space and time begin to bend. Bend space and time enough and the paths that light would follow curve in on themselves, until inside the event horizon (the “point of no return”) the only way light can go is down, into the center of the black hole.
That’s not the only way to get a “point of no return” though. Imagine flying a glider above a fast-moving river. If the plane is slower than the river, then any object placed in the river is like a “point of no return”: once the object passes you, you can never fly back and find it again.
Of course, trying to apply this to light runs into a difficulty: you can have a river faster than a plane, but it’s pretty hard to have a river faster than light. You might even say it’s impossible: nothing can travel faster than light, after all, right?
The idea that nothing can travel faster than light is actually a common misconception, held because it makes a better buzzword than the truth: nothing can travel faster than light in a vacuum. Light in a vacuum goes straight to its target, the fastest thing in the universe. But light in a substance, moving through air or water or glass, gets deflected: it runs into atoms, gets absorbed, gets released, and overall moves slower. So in order to make a black hole, all we need is some substance moving faster than light moves in that substance: a superluminal river of glass.
(By the way, is that not an amazingly evocative phrase? Sounds like the title of a Gibson novel.)
Now it turns out that literally making glass move faster than light moves inside it is still well beyond modern science. But scientists can get around that. Instead of making the glass move, they make the properties of the glass change, using lasers to alter the glass so that the altered area moves faster than the light around it. With this sort of setup, they can test all sorts of theoretical black hole properties up close, in the comfort of a university basement.
That’s just one example of how to create an artificial black hole. There are several others, and all of them rely on various ingenious manipulations of the properties of matter. You live in a world in which artificial black holes are routine and diverse. Inspiring, no?