Why didn't I see this coming? As early QD readers may remember from my post on the QD launch date (Jan 13), I was very enthusiastic about a paper by Horatieu Nastase which made an intriguing claim that RHIC collisions produce "Dual Black Holes", and calculated some properties of various collisions (both of two protons and two nuclei) based on this claim. Unfortunately, some reporters have gotten to Horatieu and it seems to have created a press firestorm overseas.
I stumbled on this the usual way, via slashdot.org. This piece led straightaway to a story at the BBC website (from which I stole this image). And a quick scan of Google news led to several more articles, and I don't think we've heard the last of this: it's a science fiction dream-come-true, and a doomsayer's worst nightmare (and dream-come-true in some sense...)
Unfortunately, all of this is overstated. At RHIC we don't make a "real" black hole, in the sense envisioned by Einstein's General Theory of Relativity. Rather, Nastase's point of view is that RHIC collisions can be described by a "dual" black hole. But what does "dual" mean in this context? It's not "two-ness" in any sense, but rather indicates that one can write down a theory which describes the collision as a black hole, but in a completely different world than that we see around us. To make his model work, he (and many other researchers who are exploring this direction) make a calculation of a black hole in 10 dimensions in order to describe difficult (but gravitationally benign) aspects of the strong interaction in 4 dimensions.
This is not to undersell how interesting RHIC collisions are: if we in fact can use this "dual black hole" language to describe the collisions we are making daily, this may be a real advance in our understanding. But no-one I have ever spoken to has suggested that this black hole can or does act like a traditional black hole in our observed universe (although this possibility has been considered, and has been generally discounted as an implausible scenario).