Researchers investigate how light behaves in curved space

In this image, a laser beam in an experiment propagates along the two-dimensional surface of a glass object shaped like an hourglass, curling once around the middle of the object. This is an example of an object with negative surface curvature (like a saddle, for example), in contrast to an object with positive surface curvature, such as a sphere. (Credit: Vincent Schulthei)

To investigate the influence of gravity on the propagation of light, researchers usually have to examine astronomical length scales and huge masses. However, physicists have shown that there is another way. In a recent study, they find the answers to astronomical questions in the laboratory, shifting the focus to a previously underappreciated material property — surface curvature.
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