Indexed on: 15 May '03Published on: 15 May '03Published in: General Relativity and Quantum Cosmology
It is by now well known that various condensed matter systems may be used to mimic many of the kinematic aspects of general relativity, and in particular of curved-spacetime quantum field theory. In this essay we will take a look at what would be needed to mimic a cosmological spacetime -- to be precise a spatially flat FRW cosmology -- in one of these analogue models. In order to do this one needs to build and control suitable time dependent systems. We discuss here two quite different ways to achieve this goal. One might rely on an explosion, physically mimicking the big bang by an outflow of whatever medium is being used to carry the excitations of the analogue model, but this idea appears to encounter dynamical problems in practice. More subtly, one can avoid the need for any actual physical motion (and avoid the dynamical problems) by instead adjusting the propagation speed of the excitations of the analogue model. We shall focus on this more promising route and discuss its practicality.