Explanation of the discovery of Gravitational Waves
The discovery of Gravitational Waves is a huge step forward for mankind and a milestone in human understanding of how the Universe works and proving the final chapter of Einstein’s Theory of relativity to be true once and for all. The discovery also finally confirms beyond a reasonable doubt the existence of black holes.
There was a woman, Dr Nergis Mavalvala, whom was one of the many among 950 people whose name was picked by Pakistani media and blown out of proportion to imply that she played a bigger role than she did in the discovery of these Gravitational waves. What we shouldn’t be doing is getting hung up on a singular person who is a part of the 950 people who played a major role in this discovery and instead focus on the discovery itself and we should instead look to focus on the fact that we made this discovery collectively as a species rather than focusing on singular individuals and whom deserves the credit for the discovery. Mr. Rafi Amir brought up a legitimate point: Rather than focusing on individuals of whom deserves the most praise, we should focus on the ramifications of the discovery and how it will move us forward as one singular people. This is the major reason why I reference the following article about Gravitational Waves.
The revelations that scientists directly detected gravitational waves, bizarre ripples in space-time foreseen by Einstein a century ago, have been hailed as a quantum leap forward in astronomical understanding. But what does it all mean for me and you?
The discovery is final proof of Einstein’s celebrated general theory of relativity. But it also is a window into deeper understanding of the universe. Here is an explanation for the rest of us:
1. Gravitational waves. Step back and explain them, for those of us not scientifically inclined.
Gravitational waves are tiny ripples in space and time. You can imagine the waves as ripples spreading outward from a pebble thrown into a puddle, but these ripples move at the speed of light. The ripples that are easiest to detect are produced by the acceleration of enormous objects such as supernovae and black holes. The ripples actually change the distances between points in space.
2. What is Einstein’s theory of relativity, and what does it say about gravitational waves?
General relativity has been tested six ways to Sunday and found to explain the universe every time, with one exception. Until now, Einstein’s star theory had never measured against events in the super-powerful gravity near a black hole. Now gravitational waves have painted a picture of that high-gravity region, and general relativity explains conditions there perfectly.
4. How did scientists discover the waves?
With a $1 billion facility called the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory, or LIGO. The observatory is made up of two sets of super-long tunnels, one set in Louisiana and one in Washington State. When a gravitational wave passed through the Earth in September, the tunnels changed length almost imperceptibly. LIGO’s ultra-sensitive detectors caught it.
5. Why are scientists so excited about this?
Gravitational waves give researchers a new view onto the universe. The best telescopes in the world tell us almost nothing about black holes. But the gravitational waves emanating from black holes will tell us a lot, because they encode information about their origins. This very first detection of gravitational waves, for example, showed that black holes orbit around each other and merge to form one giant black hole. That’s a revelation that all by itself would have astrophysicists popping open the Champagne.
6. What everyone wants to know: Does this mean time travel could be possible?
Nope. “I don’t think this will bring us any closer to time travel,” Kip Thorne, co-founder of LIGO said Wednesday.
7. Now that we know about gravitational waves, what comes next? What does it all mean?
This is just the beginning. Scientists are itching to detect more gravitational waves to learn what they can tell us about distant and mysterious citizens of the universe. In the decade several more gravitational-wave observatories are scheduled to come online, and scientists also have ambitious plans to launch a gravitational-wave observatory into space. A spacecraft to test technology for such an observatory blasted off in December. A new era in astronomy has begun, and there’s no telling what might be learned.