VIDEO: The Discovery of Gravitational Waves Explained

The Brains | | BrainsBrains

In two sentences, this is why the discovery of Gravitational Waves is so huge:

Now that we can detect Gravitational Waves we’ll be able to see things we’ve never seen before.  We’ll be able to see black holes, we’ll be able to see deeper into space, we’ll be able to look back in time – we might even be able to look back to the Big Bang itself.

About 100 years ago, Albert Einstein came up with the theory of relativity and it completely changed the world.

E = mc 2.

“He [Einstein] predicted that the acceleration of massive objects would roil the fabric of space and time sending out gravitational waves.  Nobody had detected one, until now.” – New York Times, yesterday

The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Ware Obervatory (LIGO) detectors in Louisiana and Washington were recently able to detect gravitational waves from the collision of two massive black holes on September 14th, 2015.  This was the first time in history gravitational waves have ever been detected.

From here on out, it’s an entirely new ballgame.

“Gravitational waves provide a completely new way at looking at the Universe. The ability to detect them has the potential to revolutionise astronomy. This discovery is the first detection of a black hole binary system and the first observation of black holes merging.’ – Stephen Hawking

Einstein thought that gravitational waves would be too difficult to detect.  Now that we know that we can detect them, it may be possible to create more sensitive instruments and begin observing the Universe in an entirely new way.  We’ll be able to look at black holes, look much deeper into space, and we should be able to look way way back in time.  Perhaps as far back as the beginning:  the Big Bang.

Oh, and it only cost us $1.1 billion USD to pull this off…

“LIGO has cost American taxpayers about $1.1 billion. That is how much the National Science Foundation has spent on the project over the past 40 years, according to the Times.”- Scientific American. today

Some say it was a little bit expensive to do this experiment just to prove Einstein was right.

Gravitational waves explained. image: the guardian
Gravitational waves explained. image: the guardian

GRAVITATIONAL WAVES:

  • Gravitational waves are prediction of the Theory of General Relativity
  • Their existence has been inferred by science but only now directly detected
  • They are ripples in the fabric of space and time produced by violent events
  • Accelerating masses will produce waves that propagate at the speed of light
  • Detectable sources ought to include merging black holes and neutron stars
  • LIGO fires lasers into long, L-shaped tunnels; the waves disturb the light
  • Detecting the waves opens up the Universe to completely new investigations – BBC
Gravitational waves formed by the merger of two black holes.
Gravitational waves formed by the merger of two black holes.

Learn more:

Einstein’s gravitational waves ‘seen’ from black holes by the BBC

 


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