Testing Relativity in the Lab

In a demonstration that one never knows what a single breakthrough will lead to, innovations in light-bending metamaterials could open the way to the testing of relativistic principles in the laboratory instead of waiting, say, a hundred years for the right celestial conditions. Check this out:

...[Xiang Zhang, a faculty scientist with the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and professor at the University of California Berkeley] and his research group have demonstrated that a new class of metamaterials called 'continuous-index photon traps' or CIPTs can serve as broadband and radiation-free 'perfect' optical cavities. As such, CIPTs can control, slow and trap light in a manner similar to such celestial phenomena as black holes, strange attractors and gravitational lenses. This equivalence between the motion of the stars in curved spacetime and propagation of the light in optical metamaterials engineered in a laboratory is referred to as the 'optical-mechanical analogy.'