When black holes meet—inside the cataclysms that cause gravitational waves

February 12, 2016 by David Blair, University Of Western Australia, The Conversation
Binary black holes come in a variety of forms, but they are all astounding. Credit: NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI)

It has long been predicted that when two black holes merge, they ought to give out a staggering amount of energy in the form of gravitational waves.

To put the breathtaking scale of this outburst into perspective, it's been caclulated to be equivalent to the power output of 1023 of our suns. That's 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 suns!

Most of this stupendous burst of is given out in the last few orbits, as the merge into a single rotating hole.

So binary black holes are like gravitational time bombs. They announce their existence in a pure gravitational explosion. The countdown timer for the explosion is set by the initial spacing of the two black holes. And only gravitational wave astronomy can reveal their existence.

Cosmic relics

Black hole pairs can be formed in a few different ways.

The first pathway to a binary black hole starts with pairs of stars born together. This is not uncommon; between one third and one half of the stars in the universe are members of binary pairs.

These stars will evolve together, and if they are massive enough, they will live fast and die young. In only a million years, both stars will have evolved, exploded and collapsed, leaving behind a pair of black holes.

If the stars are massive enough, they could collapse into black holes. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Spinning around each other like gravitational egg beaters in the sky, binary black holes tend to clear away the stars around them. Their masses could be 20 to 100s of times the mass of our sun. We call these systems co-evolved binary black holes.

Co-evolved binaries are likely to be tidally locked, meaning the spin of each star is matched to its orbital rotation, causing the pair of black holes to have their spin axes lined up like most of the planets in the solar system.

Co-aligned spin is the key signature of that were born together. The signature can be measured in gravitational wave signals.

Cosmic rogues

A binary black hole system can form in another way. Two black holes, born individually in a relatively dense cluster of stars, can capture each other.

The sling-shot effect, which space agencies use to take energy from planets to sling spacecraft out of the solar system, plays a crucial role here.

Globular clusters can also be the birthplace of binary black holes. Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt

Stars passing near the black holes get random sling-shots as they drift through the cluster. Black holes from the early universe, which are normally expected to be at least 20 times as massive as normal stars, tend to lose energy to the stars they pass, and so they slowly sink towards the centres of their star cluster.

Over billions of years, as more massive black holes sink towards the centre of globular clusters, the density increases until the typical spacing between stars and black holes is about as close as the distance between the sun and Pluto.

In these super-dense conditions, black holes can capture other black holes. Once a black hole pair has formed, it again acts like an egg beater, which transfers energy to passing stars.

Each interaction tends to cause the black hole binary to shrink, while the whole binary simultaneously gets a forward kick, which is usually strong enough to throw the binary right out of the cluster into intergalactic space.

These "capture binaries" have two significant differences when compared to co-evolved binaries: their spin axes will be randomly oriented, because the black holes themselves were born separately. These signatures can also be measured in .

Galactic captives

Gravitational waves can give direct evidence of the existence of black holes. Credit: Alain Riazuelo, IAP/UPMC/CNRS, CC BY-SA

Sling-shot interactions with other stars can also take energy from widely spaced binaries, so as to reduce the time to coalescence, and also can create black hole binaries near the centres of galaxies.

But galaxies have much stronger gravity than globular clusters. This means it's much less likely the black holes will be flung into interstellar space.

In these different ways, black holes born from the first stars end up as binary pairs: some captured near the centres of galaxies; some still near their birthplace; and others drifting through empty space for billions of years.

These are gravitational time bombs. They are all spiralling together towards coalescence. The time setting depends on their proximity.

Billions of binaries across the universe will be creating a random background of gravitational waves, ripples on a cosmic sea of space-time. But when each finally merges, they emit a vast explosion of gravitational energy, triggering a cosmic tsunami.

Countdown to coalescence

The gravitational wave emission from black hole binaries is like waves created by a moving ship. They take away energy, causing the binary to spiral inexorably towards merger.

In the emptiness of interstellar space, they can only emit electromagnetic waves if they encounter gas or comets, which could trigger weak X-ray emission. They are so small and so distant that conventional astronomy is unlikely to ever be able to detect them.

Each black hole system is like a countdown timer. Each one set to a different time according to its starting conditions. In the chaotic conditions of a collapsing gas cloud we would expect a range of time settings.

Likewise all other formation scenarios will create binaries with various time settings. Some will have times set longer than the age of the universe. Others will coalesce in an moment of cosmic time.

Only those binaries with their gravitational countdown timer set to match our place and time in the universe are useful to us. These are like cosmic time capsules that release their data in the form of a vast explosion of gravitational energy, detectable by the LIGO gravitational wave detectors.

Are there enough of these binaries, with their correct time clock setting that we can detect these gravitational explosions? Today we know that the answer is yes. See the remaining articles about the historic detection of gravitational waves by LIGO to find out more!

Explore further: Black holes could grow as large as 50 billion suns before their food crumbles into stars according to research

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cantdrive85
2.2 / 5 (17) Feb 12, 2016
When black holes meet- It's a unicorn convention
Solon
2.3 / 5 (18) Feb 12, 2016
When did black holes become fact and not theory? Maybe now they will use the supposed gravity wave detection to 'prove' black holes exist?
antialias_physorg
4.2 / 5 (26) Feb 12, 2016
When did black holes become fact and not theory?

They always have. Yesterday was just the point where even the most rabidly anti-science fanatic could no longer go "Black holes don't exist!" without realizing himself how dumb he is.

The science is in. Deal with it.
antialias_physorg
4.5 / 5 (23) Feb 12, 2016
Nah...they still don't exist

I've heard you (and others) repeat this countless times. But until now I haven't seen a single argument brought forth (much less any kind of observational evidence) why you think this.

So yeah: you're the one stuck in a belief system. You base your assertions on...nothing. Which is the very definition of what a belief system is.
Zorcon
2.6 / 5 (10) Feb 12, 2016
When did black holes become fact and not theory?


"Only a theory" is chumpspeak for "not confirmed with hard data from primitive mythology."
antialias_physorg
4.1 / 5 (16) Feb 12, 2016
Most of the time I have had to reword it many different ways in the same thread because the english words I use somehow confuse mainstream believers

The only one confused is you - because if you weren't you could actually put some math to your assertions (and if you would try that you would quickly find out that it doesn't work)

So yeah: You have a belief in nothing. Least of all anything you would put to a theoretical (much less a practical) test. That's just like the "thou shalt not put your god to the test" business in religion,

Now, if you think religion isn't worth the time of day because it cannot be tested then you understand why we think your assertions aren't worth the time of day.

Write it up. I dare you. I double dare you.
Enthusiastic Fool
3.8 / 5 (17) Feb 12, 2016
When did black holes become fact and not theory? Maybe now they will use the supposed gravity wave detection to 'prove' black holes exist?


If you have a better explanation for the movement of objects around Sgr A* I'd love to hear it.

Scientific theory and a fact are not mutually exclusive descriptions. The Theory of Heliocentricity, Theory of Evolution, Germ Theory of Disease...etc etc.

Using gravitational waves (a prediction of General Relativity) to support the existence of black holes(another prediction of General Relativity) is not illogical. These are separate yet converging lines of evidence validating GR as a whole.

Troll on man, troll on.
RealityCheck
3.4 / 5 (12) Feb 12, 2016
Hi bschott. :)
Measuring a decrease in gravity beyond a certain depth in a planetary body yet still modelling a maximum density at the core due to increasing pressure all the way down, while simultaneously measuring a decrease in the force that exerts the pressure.
Consider:

- PRESSURE is due to 'weighing down' by OVERBURDEN mass, which INCREASES as you descend INTERNAL radial.

- NET GRAVITY effect on Earth material must DECREASE as one goes downwards along a radial because downwards gravitational effect is now increasingly 'opposed' by UPWARDS gravitational effect from increasing OVERBURDEN mass.

- So, 'pressure forces' INCREASE due to ever greater 'weight/material' PUSHING DOWN with ever greater COMPRESSIVE force from ABOVE interior location you measure gravity at....while gravity strength DECREASES as one goes DOWNWARDS towards CENTER....where NET gravity effect is practically ZERO on central mass BUT pressure is MAXIMUM on same.

Less emotion; more logic. :)
Enthusiastic Fool
3.5 / 5 (15) Feb 12, 2016
@bullschott
Only can mainstream physics claim speed C is constant, formulate GR around it, then claim an experiment which shows speed C is variable supports GR. While also claiming distances and timelines are correct based on calculations of speed C being constant.


C is constant in the shapiro effect. The path is lengthened by the gravitational field which results in longer travel times. This is time dilation.

I'm going to appropriate a Kent Hovind quote just for you:
"...scoffers are willingly ignorant - "willingly ignorant". In the Greek, that means "dumb on purpose"

Scroofinator
2.8 / 5 (9) Feb 12, 2016
I encourage anyone to overthrow any theory of physics with solid arguments.

Well then I wish to overthrow relativity, er well the LIGO experiment does...

That is what interferometers were designed to do, detect ether.

Can someone explain to me how this test is fundamentally different from the orignal MM experiment?
Scroofinator
1.8 / 5 (12) Feb 12, 2016
but so far I have heard absolutely nothing that disproves GRT.

Galactic rotation
RealityCheck
2.8 / 5 (11) Feb 12, 2016
Hi bschott. :)
Hey RC: The force of gravity is required for any mass to exert pressure. When travelling downwards, if you pass the point/layer) where gravity is greatest then that "layer" is pulling everything towards it. It is impossible to increase pressure if the gravitational acceleration in a direction is zero....

Why do you think volcanoes don't spew out heavier material than what we find in the earths crust?
The first part of your reply makes sense, as far as it goes. :)

But consider further: Which part/mass above/below has the freedom to MOVE? And in what direction? Even as the lower mass is 'attracted' by the overburden mass, the tendency for them to move towards each other is what 'compresses' them; with only the upper masses tending to 'move down' and so 'weigh upon' and compresses the lower mass IN SITU. Hence increasing CUMULATIVE pressure PROFILE while decreasing NET gravity effect PROFILE as one moves down a radial. It's subtle and tricky. Careful. :)
toddjnsn
5 / 5 (6) Feb 12, 2016
One thing though. According to one article in Scientific American, black holes collide all the time in the universe -- this was just the first one we were able to detect (then whip out the gravitational wave measurement device).

I could understand if this puppy was on the other side of the galaxy or something, or even in a neighboring one.... but it's 1.3 BILLION light years away.

How do we know it's from IT -- and not some other gravitational collision (or an interference pattern from multiple)?
d0nkey
3.5 / 5 (12) Feb 12, 2016
Some people just need a high-five... in the face... with a chair.

I honestly feel bad for anyone who believes these trolls. I mean, imagine if any of these people have children? How sad for them.
reid barnes
3 / 5 (3) Feb 12, 2016
Whether "space" physically interacts in a gravitational field or not does not address the problem that the non-Euclidean geometry of the general theory of relativity is self-contradicting. Even if Einstein is correct that "space" does interact in a gravitational field or near massive bodies, his statement that "in the presence of a gravitational field the geometry is not Euclidean" cannot be correct if that non-Euclidean geometry is self-contradicting.
Scroofinator
2.3 / 5 (9) Feb 12, 2016
Oh phys, you sad poor child...
Unless there is DM.

Which relativity didn't predict, and the equations don't support (without adjustments).

Let's face it, the cosmological constant was perhaps Einstein's greatest blunder. There's two reasons for this, first of which was an invalid assumption that the universe is static. Secondly, he only had specific measurements and data of the solar system when he constructed relativity.

His equations work perfectly for the observed universe of his time. Pick any solar system with one star and relativity will be amazingly accurate. Go to systems with multiple stars and the certainty goes down. We don't even fully understand the Sirius system and it's our closest neighbor.

Scale out to a galaxy, and they aren't even close.

Let's be real phys, it was really only a solar system constant.

On a different note, I see you (and vietvet) have decided to sidestep the proof for ether. Not surprising, just wanted to point it out.
Scroofinator
1.8 / 5 (8) Feb 12, 2016
BTW phys, that reply was to your original unedited comment when it was just "unless there is DM"
Scroofinator
2.1 / 5 (9) Feb 12, 2016
Why should relativity have predicted DM.

Because it was the model for gravity, and gravity works the same everywhere right? Something that was 95% erroneous would be laughable these days.
Scroofinator
2.4 / 5 (7) Feb 12, 2016
Then where did the idea of a black hole come from? Pretty sure his equations predicted those
Scroofinator
2.3 / 5 (8) Feb 12, 2016
If you assume Newton gravity

I don't assume, actually, and that is why these observations of DE/DM bring out questions, many people don't assume devotion to an idea that has shown to not be bulletproof.

Crackpots and heretics we be
Old_C_Code
2.7 / 5 (12) Feb 12, 2016
Some people just need a high-five... in the face... with a chair.


Wow, if someone doesn't believe some stars rotate in a fraction of a second (pulsars) they need to be assaulted? LOL, only a punk would say that.

Another USELESS genius (in diapers) destined to accomplish nothing of any real value, too.
Scroofinator
1.9 / 5 (9) Feb 12, 2016
Is there a better word for it than devotion? Just because an idea best explains something, it doesn't make it right. It's just the best current option. Typically humanity has done a pretty good job at coming up with the solution. People said we couldn't fly, the Wright brothers said f that. Right now we're so stuck on the idea that we quit looking at better options, at least from a mainstream point of view. That's not science anymore.

There's viable options out there, the Eric Dollard (and others) space/counter-space theory being one that makes the most sense. I don't care about his alleged reputation
Vietvet
3.7 / 5 (11) Feb 12, 2016
Eric Dollard, King of the Cranks.
Scroofinator
1.4 / 5 (5) Feb 12, 2016
Haha I had a feeling that could pull you out of the peanut gallery. Takes a real big crankbait to get you to bite.

Now that you're here, feel like adding anything useful to the discussion?
gculpex
2.3 / 5 (6) Feb 12, 2016
The CMB is a 13.75 billion year old light echo from an event that occurred due to impossible physics, and the main evidence that it occurred is the echo.


Considering that the true size of the universe is probably closer to 92 billion years and not 13.75 billion for the observable universe, that would be a big problem for the BB gang.....

Makes us very late to the galactic aliens party....... somewhere.......
Old_C_Code
1.7 / 5 (12) Feb 12, 2016
Considering that the true size of the universe is probably closer to 92 billion years


How can the universe be anything other than infinite? It makes no sense that there must be a beginning or a size limit. Unless you're religious and trained by the clergy or the gravity priests.
TehDog
4.7 / 5 (12) Feb 12, 2016
bschott said,

"Discussing a DM component to the solar system with you Antialias - Not one time in the whole discussion did you acknowledge that DM was never part of Newtons, Keplers, or Einsteins equations of motion. So that to add it now because of galactic motion adds a component to the solar system that was unaccounted for, despite how "correct" those equations are"

I was trying to think of a short, accurate reply to this, then I realised it was pointless, the amount of wrong in that quote would require an essay.
IronhorseA
5 / 5 (2) Feb 13, 2016
I seem to recall that Newton's gravitational theory requires that all matter exerts a gravitational force on every other piece of matter. GR, on the other hand essentially scraps that and and says that matter only exerts a gravitational force on spacetime, and the apparent affect on other matter is a result of an attempt to by that other matter to follow a straight line in what is now a curved space. I wonder if the 'gravitational force' you feel 3000 miles under the earth's crust is more analogous (not necessarily the same thing) to the free fall that an astronaut feels 180 miles up in the space station ie. they feel no gravity but only because they are in free fall, the curvature of space isn't 0 at that height.
yep
1.5 / 5 (12) Feb 13, 2016
First there was a miracle...the Big Bang... because it was a miracle the laws of physics did not need to apply...but somewhere between then and now. Those laws took effect except with black holes dark matter and pulsars and a couple other things but that does not matter because we have math! And math proves miracles happen! I'm so glad we have such a good foundation to base our science on.
Captain Stumpy
4 / 5 (12) Feb 13, 2016
I have presented it repeatedly ...
@bs
no, you have not, and you admitted as much in the next post
I base ALL of my assertions about mainstream physics around the contradictions which I constantly point out here, that exist in mainstream physics
basically you said:
"it can't exist because there is a web-page about [insert pseudoscience here] that states it can't be real based upon [insert non-evidence based assumptions] and this is argument from logic/reason and ample refute which is evidence [in your opinion]"

No, it is not evidence
it is (as AA_P noted above) a faith based conjecture or a denial of the evidence of others based upon (most likely) your D-K, as evidenced by your other quote
Not one time in the whole discussion did you acknowledge that DM was never part of Newtons, Keplers, or Einsteins equations of motion
and Darwin never mentioned DNA, so does that refute evolution?
you can't build upon a theory?

wow
Torbjorn_Larsson_OM
5 / 5 (7) Feb 13, 2016
Interesting take on BH binaries in the article, the LIGO collective paper archive only discuss star binaries which has implications on stellar physics.

@todd: "How do we know [its a BH merger]"?

I don't know the exact details that tell us it can't be stars with ordinary mass, I haven't found that in LIGO's many papers (assuming they have written it up yet), but I can make a uninformed guess on how the experts know FWIW.

1. The energy release at 5 % mass to energy conversion efficiency. Try that with stars!

2. The simulation that predicts the seen "chirp" signal has gravity stresses first deform and later relax the BH's event horizons, (See the video from the press conference.)

Spacetime is very stiff I hear (not having studied GR), which is why it usually bends so little even at massive bodies. So the chirp relaxes - stops - very quickly, while you would expect to see a star simulation jiggle for a while after.
Torbjorn_Larsson_OM
5 / 5 (7) Feb 13, 2016
So I don't expect a single comment to change the anti-science freak out, but I notice that no one has tried to accept AAP's challenge and give numbers. Therefore all the nonsense declarations of what GR does or doesn't such as 'break physics at big bang', 'don't predict galaxy rotation correctly', 'does not predict DM', et cetera falls flat.

You don't *know* any of that, if you check it it is wrong - say, the Astrobite sites for astronomers describe papers that show GR with LCDM is now *the best* theory predicting galaxy rotation (with numbers!) when you account for the physics - and it is precisely because scientists do numbers that works. GR does not have to predict particles anymore evolution must predict emergence of life. You don't grok science. (Incidentally both does a good job of that anyway, GR for example predicts gravitons when you quantize it at low energies and it does afford existing particles relativistic masses . just not invariant mass.)

[tbctd]
Torbjorn_Larsson_OM
5 / 5 (7) Feb 13, 2016
[ctd]

Since I don't have space (or time -sic!) to present numbers myself, I'll let an astrophysicist that did it as graduate do it. The example would be on why DM doesn't affect the motion of the solar system.

TL;DR: DM is dilute, and the system has only an asteroid's worth of it. Do we expect an asteroid affect the Sun and the planet motion? "Someday, we may understand the Solar System well enough that such tiny differences will be detectable, but we're a good factor of 100,000+ away from that right now." [ http://scienceblo...-system/ ; OK you must re-derive his estimates, but if you can't play graduates don't try to play scientists.]

Also, the guy who doesn't know about Newton's shell theorem and can't apply it to the inside of planets? Hilarious, it is more math than physics and *he so obviously doesn't care to find out numbers (= science)*!
yep
1 / 5 (8) Feb 13, 2016
First there was a miracle...the Big Bang... math proves miracles happen! I'm so glad we have such a good foundation to base our science on.

yep, you should stick to gardening or trout fishing. Ride a bike!
This is getting nowhere.

Exactly just like the last hundred years! Not surprising when you base reality on an assumption and prove it with math. Garbage in garbage out. Good job guys!
HeloMenelo
4 / 5 (8) Feb 13, 2016
Nah...they still don't exist

I've heard you (and others) repeat this countless times. But until now I haven't seen a single argument brought forth (much less any kind of observational evidence) why you think this.

you're the one stuck in a belief system. You base your assertions on...nothing. Which is the definition of a belief system.


I have presented it repeatedly in every thread where it has come up. Most of the time I have had to reword it many different ways in the same thread because the english words I use somehow confuse mainstream believers.

I am not the one stuck in a belief system because I disbelieve in these theories,

instead you're stuck in monkey business providing monkey evidence everytime, along with the socks you created antisciencegorilla,waterprophet, small donglish ,shootist and all the other clowns circle jerking in your self created (but hilarious) circus.
HeloMenelo
4 / 5 (8) Feb 13, 2016
I have presented it repeatedly ...
@bs
no, you have not, and you admitted as much in the next post
I base ALL of my assertions about mainstream physics around the contradictions which I constantly point out here, that exist in mainstream physics
basically you said:
"it can't exist because there is a web-page about [insert pseudoscience here] that states it can't be real based upon [insert non-evidence based assumptions] and this is argument from logic/reason and ample ....


As always 10/10 for the Captain
gculpex
2 / 5 (4) Feb 13, 2016
Considering that the true size of the universe is probably closer to 92 billion years


How can the universe be anything other than infinite? It makes no sense that there must be a beginning or a size limit. Unless you're religious and trained by the clergy or the gravity priests.

Go to vertasium and learn something new, not to mention the possibility that we live in a holographic universe.
"And who was dumb enough to train you?", would be stupid of me to reply because it brings me down to your level of Intel.
The learning never ends, it just keeps getting weirder and weirder...
AmritSorli
1 / 5 (6) Feb 14, 2016
Gravity is the attractive force between material objects. How GW when is on the way from the object A to the object B facilitate the implementation of the gravitational force?. In the model I develop there is a "gravity theorem" according to which a physical phenomenon which carry gravity between objects A and B must have the stable and permanent contact with objects A and B. GW does not fulfil "gravity theorem". How gravitational waves (GW) are creating gravity force between two material objects when they are on the middle way between them is a question GW model has to answer. 

Why nobody see that Higgs boson and gravitational waves are the pure theoretical failures? - ResearchGate. Available from: https://www.resea...failures [accessed Feb 14, 2016].
Zzzzzzzz
3.9 / 5 (7) Feb 16, 2016
and my ignore list grows and grows......
Azrael
3.7 / 5 (6) Feb 16, 2016
When did black holes become fact and not theory? Maybe now they will use the supposed gravity wave detection to 'prove' black holes exist?


Probably around the time we could peer into the center of our galaxy and see stars in the central region getting sling-shotted around by an invisible object with an incredibly powerful gravitational field.

Sure, you can't see a black hole, but you can definitely see the effect one has on matter in one's immediate vicinity.
chileastro
1.7 / 5 (6) Feb 16, 2016

As always 10/10 for the Captain


When did feeding trolls become an Olympic event?
Captain Stumpy
3.4 / 5 (5) Feb 16, 2016
feeding trolls ...
@chileastro
perhaps i misunderstood your post...

what is trolling about pointing out the logical fallacies of a promoter of pseudoscience?

admitted, bschott is typically nothing more than an annoying troll seeking to bait into a flame war, however, it is often those type posts that give the best examples of logical fallacies or irrational thinking... in fact, the eu and zephir actually provide some of the best fodder for this

now, bschott et al and the religious nutters are true trolls in that they do not seek to actually present evidence but only to proselytize their religion (including the pseudoscience crowd) and flame or bait... but that doesn't mean the occasional pointing to their stupidity can't actually teach someone something

IMHO - sometimes you need the nuts to pontificate so you can teach things like the difference in evidence vs opiniohttp://www.auburn...ion.html
viko_mx
2 / 5 (4) Feb 16, 2016
When we switch off the computers, black holes disappear. They are human invention which refelects the way of thinking of some people.
Captain Stumpy
4 / 5 (4) Feb 18, 2016
When we switch off the computers, black holes disappear
ROTFLMFAO
so... when you turn off the lights at night, does the Sun disappear too?
when you close a book, do the writings cease to exist too?
when you go to sleep, do you cease to exist?

you are too funny!
They are human invention which refelects the way of thinking of some people.
this is true only of religion!
LMFAO
ab3a
5 / 5 (3) Feb 18, 2016
We theorize that black holes exist in much the same way that subatomic particles must exist.

At best we can only make indirect observations. We can never actually "see" them. We can only detect them using instruments and our understanding of what we think it should look like.

LIGO confirms that we can detect the existence of something that was theorized decades ago and that it really does do pretty much what theory suggests.

In other words, the observation matches the model. The semantics of whether a black hole really exists is a philosophical argument. We have to trust our instruments and understanding of physics. Of course it is flawed, but it seems to be working as a pretty good predictor of what we're measuring.

And to those who argue otherwise, please consider Occam's Razor. I can always argue about little green men shaking instruments and the like. But that's unrealistic.
ab3a
5 / 5 (3) Feb 18, 2016
Don't hurt yourself with that razor !


Touche! Basically my point is that if a tree falls in a forest and only two persons equipped with with extraordinary hearing apparatus hear it from a long way off (at the same time), we can be pretty sure, knowing what trees should sound like when they fall, that it did happen.

Did we observe it directly? No. But we have pretty convincing evidence that it is a likely explanation.
ab3a
5 / 5 (1) Feb 19, 2016
The objection that many make is that because we are inferring things from indirect measurements, that there can be other explanations. The fact that there is (currently) no more direct way that this could have been measured is irrelevant to their argument.

They're not wrong, but they're light on plausible alternative explanations.

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