Einstein's Most Incredible Prediction May Be Proven Right On February 11
Albert Einstein gave us his theory of relativity back in 1915. It is undoubtedly one of the most important scientific breakthroughs in human history but it has yet not fully been accepted.
Gravitational waves may have been detected for the first time but we won't know for sure until February 11, 2016. Why it matters is because whoever manages to pull it off will most likely bag a Nobel Prize and will have confirmed one of the last pieces of Einstein's Theory of General Relativity.
In the event the theory is confirmed, it would mean that we are on the right path to understanding the universe. If not, decades of research would have been in vain and we will need to start over or it may mean that we haven't looked long enough.
The illustration shown in the picture is that of two black holes colliding. It looks spectacular, just like the stuff we've got in store for you, so don't stop reading.
#5 What Gravitational Waves Are
"Gravitational waves are ripples in the fabric of space-time, predicted by Einstein 100 years ago," says Szabi Marka, a physicist at Columbia University. "They can be created during the birth and collision of black holes, and can reach us from distant galaxies."
Colliding neutron stars, supernovas and other cosmic events also, in theory, produce detectable gravitational waves, but we haven't been able to detect any so far.
Black holes are the most dense objects in existence and as a result they also produce the most powerful gravitational force (not exactly) known to man. In the event of a collision of two black holes, a burst of gravitational waves so strong that we can detect them here on Earth will be produced.
And this time, we are really close. Keep reading to find out why...
#4 A "Major" Event
Columbia University in New York City is hosting a "major" event the morning of Thursday February 11, 2016. Several astronomers and physicists with expertise in gravitational wave science are scheduled to attend.
This congregation is going to discuss the latest data from the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), a $1 billion experiment that has searched for signs of the phenomenon since 2002. LIGO has two L-shaped detectors that are collectively run by over a thousand researchers of about 15 nationalities and Marka is one of them.
Marka said that he and his colleagues have worked in the field for more than 15 years and that "these are very exciting and busy times for all of us." Marka also said that Advanced LIGO, is an upgrade that went online in September 2015. And this is the groundbreaking upgrade that has got us really close!
#3 Advanced LIGO
Advanced LIGO finished a period of hunting for gravitational waves on January 12, 2016, which so happens to be, was one day after we saw the first alluring rumors of detection.
Other sources would neither confirm nor deny any information - a classic way of saying "yes, you are right" in a way that you still get to keep your job.
Thursday's LIGO-related event at Columbia wouldn't seem so unusual if it weren't for rumors of a LIGO-related study that's supposedly going to be published online the same day (February 11) by Nature - one of the foremost scientific journals in the world.
The Nature study rumor comes from a "Woohoo!" email that a physicist at McMaster University and the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics (both in Canada), Cliff Burgess, sent to his academic colleagues last week.
Burgess' email will definitely show you the light, so don't stop reading!
#2 How Advanced LIGO Is Better
But before we get to Burgess' email, let's take a look at how LIGO works and how advanced LIGO is better. You can still skip ahead but we recommend you enjoy the story for everything it has to offer to you.
The LIGO is made up of two L-shaped arrays of lasers and mirrors that should be able to detect gravitational waves. Think of them as a pair of giant ears that can hear cosmic ripples that result from black hole mergers or supernovas. The closer the collision is to the eart, the louder the ripples will be.
To put things into perspective, LIGO's hearing is sensitive enough to detect mind-blowingly small disturbances of space, "much smaller than the size of the atoms the detector is built of," says Szabi Marka. LIGO's level of sensitivity is "like being able to tell that a stick 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 meters long has shrunk by 5mm."
Even a truck driving on a nearby road can disturb LIGO, despite the instruments having state-of-the-art vibration-dampening equipment.
So let's see what Burgess thinks an instrument so sensitive might have caught for us. This is it...
#1 The Leaked Email
Burgess began by confirming that this was indeed his email and alleged that it must have been one of his students who shared it on Twitter, from where it went viral.
If Burgess is to be trusted, then gravitational waves traveling at the speed of light have already been detected by LIGO. Those that could only come from two black holes, each about 30 times the mass of the sun, colliding deep in space. When asked about the upcoming Columbia event, Burgess said it was "very interesting" but seemed unsure about the rumours being true.
The probable reason could be that the leaders of the LIGO project sometimes inject fake data to check if everyone really is paying close enough attention. In the past, they have gone so far as to pop champagne bottles, write a study, and submit it to a journal before they found out the signal was actually just a test.
The mystery is revealed only after the collaborators report the event.
So has LIGO made a breakthrough or is this yet another hope too bright? We'll find out soon enough - the 11th of February isn't very far away. Until then, share the knowledge with your geeky friends or colleagues, everyone needs to know this.
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