Gravitational Waves Archive

The scientific story of 2016 was the announcement of the detection of Gravitational waves, the compression and stretching of space by Ligo (the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory).

Much of the publicity of the event centred on how it proved Einstein right as he had theorised abut them as a consequence of the General Theory of Relativity (GTR). To have done so reveals our need for a human story, even when dealing with complicated scientific theories and the continued fascination with Einstein, the man, his work and his legacy.

There was something very profound about the detection of Gravitational Waves, beyond its verification of the GTR. As Marcus Chown explains in his recent book, The Ascent of Gravity it is “the most important development in astronomy since the invention of the telescope in 1608”. We are no longer restricted to seeing; now we can hear the universe. A whole new sense has opened up for us when it comes to understanding the universe.

It appears to me that we are already beginning to see the consequences of the discovery of Gravitational Waves.

In June the third detection by the Ligo team hinted that this observation may help to an understanding of dark matter. The mass of the circulating black holes that collided to create the waves detected suggests they were formed not from collapsing stars, but from patches of material. It is a long stretch, but this may be the start of the hunt for dark matter.

More recently a paper published by the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics in Potsdam suggests that the detection may help to prove string theory. The theory (there are many competing versions) says that particles are strings which vibrate to create the forces of nature. The theories are dependent on at least six extra dimensions. The paper says that string theory predicts that the ripples caused by the collisions of black holes that cause the gravitational waves detected by Ligo also cause ripples through the extra dimensions, which would create an effect on the gravitational wave. If that effect can be detected then it supports string theory.

Slowly but surely the discovery of gravitational waves is causing the radical impact on physics and our understanding of the universe that was predicted. Einstein, once again is the beacon we use to shine on the dark universe and decipher its meaning.

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2016 – Forget Trump, it was Einstein’s year

Posted January 24, 2017 By admin

Somewhat predictably Time magazine named Donald Trump as their person of the year. I understand the reasoning, but cannot agree. The year undoubtedly belonged to Albert Einstein, but to understand why, we need to understand the deep importance of his theories and the effect they have on our everyday lives.
Two stories stand like book ends to the year; seemingly unconnected, but that is wrong. They are connected by the work of Albert Einstein.
The first was the announcement in February of the discovery of Gravitational Waves. Confirmation from the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) of the capture of the signal on Sept. 14, 2015, caused quite a stir worldwide. Some described it as one of the greatest scientific discoveries of the last 100 years. Why? In essence, it gives us the ability of seeing the universe in a whole new way. Suddenly we are not only able to see the Universe, but now hear it. Whereas before we were deaf to space, now we can hear its music. And what will this mean? Ultimately it will take us all the way back to the start – back to the big bang. The very act of creation may be opened to us.
The second story was the December story that Uber was to use driverless cars in San Francisco. To be fair, it was short-lived. California officials ordered a shutdown after concerns of the cars running red lights. However, surely this is the thin end of the wedge. Driverless cars are here to stay and are set to revolutionise the transportation industry, the insurance industry and all service industries that employ drivers. We are on the verge of a huge shift in how we use the car.
What links these two stories? The General Theory of Relativity (GTR). Einstein’s 1916 masterpiece. Gravitational waves were predicted by Einstein as a consequence of the theory. No theory – no gravitational waves. And for driverless cars? One of the essential elements of the whole system is GPS. Without it, there could be no driverless cars and without the GTR there could be no GPS system. The network of satellites that provide GPS have to constantly take account of the effects of the GTR. If the adjustments were not made then every day the GPS system would be thrown out by miles, rendering it useless.
These stories are a reminder of Einstein’s legacy and our dependence on it. Long after The Don has gone, Einstein will still be influencing and remaking our world and our understanding of the universe. So whilst today’s news cycle may be dominated by Trump, when we look back to 2016 in a hundred years time it will be Einstein people will talk about.

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Einstein Waves

Posted April 26, 2014 By admin

As speculated in the last post, Gravitational Waves are very much in the news. It has now been confirmed that researchers at the BICEP2 telescope in Antarctica have detected indirect evidence of primordial gravitational waves (ripples in space-time) as forecast by Albert Einstein in his General Theory of Relativity.
This announcement marks a big couple of years for physics: first came the Higgs-Boson and now primordial gravitational waves, both discoveries push our understanding of the universe and its beginning forward in fundamental ways. And both stem directly from Einstein and his theories and bot reveal how important Einstein is to modern science our understanding of nature.
What are gravitational waves? In his General Theory of Relativity, Einstein compared the universe’s shape to a single fabric made from space-time and speculated that gravity is caused by the curvature in space-time, with gravitational waves being like ripples in that fabric. Ripples are caused by two objects that are accelerating acting on each other. Gravitational waves have been detected before, what this new announcement is about is primordial gravitational waves. These are waves in space-time that date back to the Big Bang and the birth of the universe, during the period known as inflation.
There are many articles and information around about the announcement and it meaning. Here are some links to some interesting articles:
Primordial gravitational waves – a whole new era
What are gravitational waves
Gravitational waves discovery.
Enjoy your reading and consider the profound influence Albert Einstein continues to have on modern physics and our world.

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