Detection of gravitational waves would open new window on universe

February 10, 2016 by Jean-Louis Santini
An artist's concept illustrates a quasar, or feeding black hole, on March 13, 2012. Gravitational waves are theorized to form ar
An artist's concept illustrates a quasar, or feeding black hole, on March 13, 2012. Gravitational waves are theorized to form around objects with great mass like black holes

The first-ever detection of gravitational waves, which scientists could announce Thursday, would open a new window on the universe and its most violent phenomena.

Scientists will hold a press conference Thursday to discuss the latest in their hunt for these waves, whose existence Albert Einstein predicted in his theory of general relativity 100 years ago, according to a statement from the National Science Foundation, which has funded the research.

Scientists from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) who have been working on the detection of these waves for years will participate.

Press conferences are also simultaneously scheduled at Paris's National Center for Science Research (CNRS) and also in London.

The announcement of a press conference revived rumors that have been circulating in the scientific community for months that the LIGO team may have indeed directly detected gravitational waves for the first time.

These waves are produced by disturbances in the fabric of space and time when a massive object moves, like a black hole or a neutron star.

Albert Einstein, a memorial of him seen on January 22, 2016 in Washington, DC, theorized that waves would appear like ripples in
Albert Einstein, a memorial of him seen on January 22, 2016 in Washington, DC, theorized that waves would appear like ripples in a pond that form when a stone is thrown in the water

Einstein theorized that they would appear like ripples in a pond that form when a stone is thrown in the water, or like a net that bows under the weight of an object placed within—with the net serving as a metaphor for the bending of space-time.

According to the rumors, the team may have observed the collision of two black holes and their fusion—leading to the detection of gravitational waves.

Science magazine cited Clifford Burgess, a physicist at McMaster University in Canada and also a member of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, as saying he deemed the rumors credible, even though he had not yet seen any documentation from LIGO.

New look at universe

The ability to observe these gravitational waves would offer astronomer and physicists a new look at the most mysterious workings of the universe, including the fusion of neutron stars and the behaviors of black holes, which are often found in the centers of galaxies.

"The driving force of the universe is gravity," said Tuck Stebbins, Gravitational Astrophysics Lab Chief at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

"These waves are streaming to you all the time and if you could see them, you could see back to the first one trillionth of a second of the Big Bang," he told AFP.

"There is no other way for humanity to see the origin of the universe."

Stebbins said he believes "we stand at a threshold of a revolutionary period in our understanding, our view of the universe."

The LIGO detectors—one in Washington and one in Louisiana—can "measure changes of spacetime at the level of 1/1000 diameter of a proton," he added.

Catherine Man, an astronomer at the Cote d'Azur Observatory in France, said the detection of these waves—if confirmed—would allow astronomers to probe the interior of stars and perhaps resolve the mystery of gamma rays, which are among the most powerful explosions in the universe and whose cause remains poorly understood.

"Now we are no longer observing the universe with telescopes using ultraviolet light or visible light but we are listening to the noises produced by the effects of the gravitation of celestial bodies on the fabric of space-time, which could come from stars or ," she told AFP.

"And since the star or black hole does not stop these waves, which move at the speed of light, they come right to us and we can therefore make models... to distinguish and detect their signatures."

Previously, two Princeton scientists won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1993 for discovering a new type of pulsar that offered indirect proof of the existence of .

The LIGO team is collaborating with a French-Italian team on another detector, called VIRGO, that should become operational soon.

Explore further: Announcement Thursday on Einstein's gravitational waves

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47 comments

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axemaster
4.9 / 5 (11) Feb 10, 2016
There's going to be a press conference at MIT tomorrow. Getting excited!
hemitite
5 / 5 (2) Feb 10, 2016
Will this press conference be televised? I've given up TV for Lent, but this would be an exception!
indio007
1.4 / 5 (11) Feb 10, 2016
"measure changes of spacetime at the level of 1/1000 diameter of a proton"

No , you can't.
bredmond
5 / 5 (3) Feb 10, 2016
Let's assume it is true and all of Einstein's predictions are correct, is it possible using the LIGO to make a sky survey and create an anisotropy like was done with light with the WMAP? If not, could this then be done easily with a future detector array, satellite or other apparatus?

If so, what could possibly be learned from such an image?
Azrael
4.4 / 5 (12) Feb 10, 2016
"measure changes of spacetime at the level of 1/1000 diameter of a proton"

No , you can't.


Sure you can. Laser interferometers are incredibly sensitive measuring devices.
Torbjorn_Larsson_OM
5 / 5 (10) Feb 10, 2016
According to a Guardian cosmologist source, the whole group are more or less excited. And leaks details of (rumors of) a strong, unambiguous signal from two black holes that they have extracted the masses of. So now I am excited too!

"There is no other way for humanity to see the origin of the universe."

Stebbins goes a bit overboard. The CMB observes further back (which is why BICEP2 hoped to see weaker *primordial* gravitational waves), but it is a historical imprints of weaker observational constraint.

@indio: Don't be ridiculous, that they can is the reason they do the experiment. The resolution is comparable to that of the stablest atomic clock (who would go wrong with 1 s over the lifetime of the universe), so no extraordinary resolution today.
Torbjorn_Larsson_OM
5 / 5 (7) Feb 10, 2016
@bredmond: See above on what it is claimed they can see, if so by modeling of the signal source.

US has two of these LIGOs, the italian VIRGO equivalent is currently off line to be upgraded to a 3d as good detector. With 3 detectors they could start to triangulate at low resolution, unless I am mistaken.

@bschott: I am sorry, I have no idea what you are trying to say.

A gravitational wave would twist spacetime quadrupole fashion (like flexing of a ring in two orthogonal directions [ https://en.wikipe...nal_wave ]), changing positions of the LIGO mirrors. That positional change is detected.

@Phys1: I am sorry, I have no idea what you are trying to say.

The time it takes for a photon to go from the surface of the Sun to the surface of Earth is some 8-12 minutes, depending on where on its orbit Earth is.
rwcarmichael
3.5 / 5 (8) Feb 10, 2016
I can hardly wait until the AGW deniers discover quantum physics. I imagine their heads will explode.
Fleetfoot
5 / 5 (6) Feb 10, 2016
This is the effect of a GW:

https://en.wikipe...tion.gif

You can think of the operation as LIGO measuring the width of the ellipse relative to the height.
antigoracle
1 / 5 (2) Feb 10, 2016
I look forward to the day we can surf these waves to exotic distant shores.
indio007
1.8 / 5 (8) Feb 10, 2016
To you people that believe you can measure an at attometer.distance scale.
First this is shorter than the shortest measure wavelenth
They can barely measure a proton with 1% accuracy. (0.87 femtometers). How are the going to measure 1000th of that?

Also did we all forget the measuring devices are made of protons?
Ever hear of the diffraction limit?
How the hell is anyone buying this?

bob456789
2 / 5 (7) Feb 10, 2016
gravity has no mass. It is impossible to measure anything with no mass. the proton may move, but it is not from a gravity wave. how much does time weigh?
NIPSZX
3 / 5 (1) Feb 10, 2016
I do not understand how a gravity detector like LIGO is built.. What sensors are used to detect gravity?
ichisan
3 / 5 (12) Feb 10, 2016
Here is one of the many reasons that gravity waves are stupid nonsense and why any announcement that gravity waves have been detected is likely to be fraudulent or another pathetic error.

Gravity affects everything that exists equally regardless of mass and this includes massless particles. Both Newton and Galileo understood this, even though relativists claim that they figured it out. Go figure.

The problem is that this undeniable principle means that gravity also affect gravity waves. Since these waves affect themselves, they cancel themselves out. It's the same thing with so-called curved space. If it exists, regardless of its mass, gravity affects it. The infinite self-referential regress is too painful to even contemplate.

Conclusion: all relativists are out to lunch. Tomorrow, I'll be watching the whole circus unfold with a bag of Cheetos in one hand, a beer in the other and a smirk on my face. LOL
TechnoCreed
5 / 5 (6) Feb 10, 2016
Make sure not to miss this historic moment http://www.ligo.o...sory.php The press conference will be webcasted live https://www.youtu...4DFr4D4I
ichisan
2.5 / 5 (8) Feb 10, 2016
Anyone remember the faster-than-light neutrino debacle? This is another similar debacle in the making. It may turn out to be even worse. Physicists really don't know jack.
promile
Feb 10, 2016
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
ichisan
3.3 / 5 (7) Feb 10, 2016
With compare to neutrino speed the gravitational wave observation has a great advantage for physicists: it cannot be replicated so easily: you have to wait for another observation, which may or may not come so quickly.

How is this an advantage? On the contrary, the extreme difficulty of replication means that the probability for errors is much greater.
promile
Feb 10, 2016
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
ichisan
2.6 / 5 (10) Feb 10, 2016
The problem is that this undeniable principle means that gravity also affect gravity waves. Since these waves affect themselves, they cancel themselves out.
This is a good insight. The general relativity in its strict 4D form actually excludes the existence of gravitational waves (or whatever else space-time artifact changing and propagating in time), as Eddington realized already. The gravitational waves have no reference frame defined, so they cannot propagate and being formed with time dimension, they have no other time dimension available for their change.

Yes. It is certainly true that nothing can move in spacetime. This is the reason that Karl Popper called spacetime "Einstein's block universe in which nothing happens." Source: Conjectures and Refutations.

Einsteinian physics is truly a conceptual disaster. It has retarded progress in physics by at least 100 years, IMO. But then again, physics has always been much more about politics and ego than science.
promile
Feb 10, 2016
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promile
Feb 10, 2016
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promile
Feb 10, 2016
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promile
Feb 11, 2016
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promile
Feb 11, 2016
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promile
Feb 11, 2016
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ichisan
1.8 / 5 (5) Feb 11, 2016

Einsteinian physics is truly a conceptual disaster. It has retarded progress in physics by at least 100 years, IMO. But then again, physics has always been much more about politics and ego than science

Politics and ego's are involved in physics like in all walks of life. But there is much worse: crackpottery, which is about the mental condition of narcissism. You for example think you are more intelligent than all of the living and dead physicist of the last 100 years combined. In reality you understand very little and are just shouting stupidity.

Your opinion matters to me because of what again?
ichisan
1.8 / 5 (5) Feb 11, 2016
You confuse me with someone who gives a rat's asteroid about the opinions of people I consider to be a bunch of crackpots, butt kissers and frauds. Including you.
ichisan
2.3 / 5 (6) Feb 11, 2016
Seeing that you are obviously a mental midget, you sure have a very high opinion of yourself. And you have the huevos to call other people narcissists? You love looking in the mirror much, don't you?
ichisan
2.3 / 5 (6) Feb 11, 2016
I was waiting for someone with a brain to actually refute my claim about the illogic of gravitational waves above. Instead, I am being attacked personally by a nincompoop.
ichisan
1.8 / 5 (5) Feb 11, 2016

I have a very low opinion of you because of your incredibly stupid posts here.
Scientifically speaking, you are ranking with the cockroaches.
Do you recognise yourself in that image?

Again, your opinion matters to me because of what again, Mr. Butt Kisser?
ichisan
1.7 / 5 (6) Feb 11, 2016
Your argument is a non-sequitur.

Your momma is a non sequitur. You don't even understand what the word means.
promile
Feb 11, 2016
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
promile
Feb 11, 2016
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bluehigh
2.7 / 5 (7) Feb 11, 2016
Correct, opinions of others do not matter to a narcissist.


Self reflection by a sock puppet.

promile
Feb 11, 2016
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
promile
Feb 11, 2016
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
promile
Feb 11, 2016
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TechnoCreed
4.4 / 5 (7) Feb 11, 2016
Watch this event live streaming on Youtube NOW https://www.youtu...93kAiPZw
ichisan
2 / 5 (8) Feb 11, 2016
While the fraudsters and assorted crackpots are having their little relativistic orgy, let me, once again, explain why gravitational waves are complete hogwash.

Gravity affects everything that exists equally regardless of mass and this includes massless particles. Both Newton and Galileo understood this centuries ago, even though relativists claim that they are the ones who figured it out. Go figure.

The problem is that this undeniable principle means that gravity also affect gravity waves. Since these waves affect themselves, they either cancel themselves out or amplify themselves recursively. The same objection applies to so-called curved space and to hypothetical intermediary particles such as gravitons. In other words, if it exists, regardless of its mass, gravity affects it. The infinite self-referential regress is too painful to even contemplate.


The stupidity and ugliness of of this whole thing is overwhelming. Deny at your own detriment.
axemaster
4.5 / 5 (8) Feb 11, 2016
I've written up a short explanation/introduction to the subject of gravitational waves for Reddit. For those who are interested:

https://www.reddi...ontext=3
ichisan
1.7 / 5 (6) Feb 11, 2016
By the way, downvoting me is not an argument. It's an ad-hominem gesture, a sign of moral turpitude.
d0nkey
3.5 / 5 (8) Feb 11, 2016
The amount of stupidity in a forum like this just blows my mind... seriously, I thought youtube and reddit trolls were the worst but I was wrong.

Captain Stumpy
3.7 / 5 (9) Feb 11, 2016
By the way, downvoting me is not an argument. It's an ad-hominem gesture, a sign of moral turpitude.
@ichi
you keep repeating this... problem is, you offer no actual evidence
you did the same thing here: http://phys.org/n...ein.html

how can one refute a belief, anyway?
you offer a belief, not an evidence based argument, and somehow we should accept this without question?
you linked a BLOG, not evidence... your blog didn't even have evidence
but the linked studies in the above (also here: http://journals.a...fulltext ) contain evidence that refutes your argument

like shavera said- quit moving the goalpost and stick to at least some factual evidence based argument and you won't get downvoted like a troll (because, technically, that is all you ARE doing at the moment: trolling and baiting with no evidence)
baudrunner
1.7 / 5 (6) Feb 13, 2016
Working at LIGO is a plum job, in my opinion. Those guys have sat around for 14 years waiting for something to happen, and now all of a sudden they are heroes! I could do that. What's it pay?
swordsman
2.3 / 5 (3) Feb 15, 2016
Gravitational force is by definition a slow process. The higher the mass, the slower it is. I suggest that they go back to the gravity equation and study it more thoroughly.
antialias_physorg
4.4 / 5 (7) Feb 15, 2016
Gravitational force is by definition a slow process

What does that even mean? Care to back that up with some kind of argument/observation?

I could do that.

Not in a gazillion years. If you think you, of all people, could contribute to LIGO (or any kind of science) you're kidding yourself. Hard.

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