The article says there’s ‘no basis for such a claim yet’. IANA Astrophysicist, but I know they’ve been looking for gravitational waves for a long time.
What are some potential technological consequences of this if it turns out to be true?
None at the moment, since these things are fantastically difficult to detect. Eventually the consequences will be profound, but don’t hold your breath.
Yes, I just read the article in the NYTimes. Very exciting!
Would it be worth updating the thread title to say “Gravity Waves Detected” - it would be cool to get an Astronomy/Physicist Doper here to speak to it.
Sounds awesome. What does it mean to me? (And I don’t mean that dismissively. I mean, to an average layman, in average laymen terms, what does this mean? What impact will it have?)
Well, haven’t you ever wanted to surf the Cosmic Fantastic? Well, now you can.
Okay, I get this is a big deal, and part of me is geeking out with the rest of the scientific community, but another part of me is not completely understanding. Something about space time and how black holes affect the universe?
I’m with you on this. What does it mean?
Guess we just have to wait for NDT to tweet about it
Moving masses leave “wakes”. These waves carry energy and we’ve indirectly detected them by watching the obit of neutron star pairs slowly become smaller and smaller - as the two stars go around each other the system shed energy through gravity waves.
This current finding is a direct measurement of a flexing of spacetime, the basic framework everything takes place in. That’s simply cool.
We don’t actually know what we’ll find. The current detector actually had its findings compared to modeled events since at least having a starting point validates the entire project. The next steps will be to start finding signals that don’t match our models and which are detected at multiple LIGO-like sites. That’s when things will get exciting.
This doesn’t immediately generate any new technology, but it does allow us to 'see" yet another part of the universe we never knew existed.
Consider that with light we can peer back to about 380,000 after the birth of the universe; neutrinos allow us to look further back to about 1 second. Gravitational waves would allow us to look even further back but for right now, finding them would really just mean we swing all of our other detectors towards the source to see what’s what.
There’s a thread in IMHO on this: http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=783727
It includes a link to an article in Nature that discusses 6 different things we can gain a better understanding of because of g-wave detection.
Knarley dude, surf’s up!
It’s cool to see some payoff on this. I occasionally worked with the people on the old pre-LIGO detector at LSU; it was a Weber bar system, using a 5000-pound aluminum cylinder. Impressive, but not as sensitive as LIGO.
As to what it means…I imagine a lot of people working on the project are staring at the results and asking themselves that very question. That’s why it’s exciting.
And B.o.B. to deny it exists.
No direct impact on people who don’t study physics, likely, because we can only detect the massive gravitational waves produced when pairs of black holes spiral into each other or similarly extreme events occur; we have no way of generating gravitational waves we can actually detect, in other words, meaning this isn’t a communications technology as it stands.
The most immediate impact in the physics world is that Einstein is right yet again: His theory of General Relativity predicted the existence of gravity waves, we’ve seen them in a way consistent with his theory (so far!), so General Relativity is right once again. This is, in fact, the last thing we’d yet to verify; we’ve verified every other prediction, from time dilation as a result of gravity wells to light beams following curved paths in the presence of strong gravity, but this is the first time we’ve been able to actually observe changes in the gravitational field propagating at light speed as waves.
Now we will use the same technology (hopefully improved to see smaller waves generated by less extreme phenomena) to look for deviations of results from predictions, to see if we have to revise the theories to match our observations. That is the potentially interesting part, and if we do find and confirm such deviations we’ll have new physics to study, and we can barely imagine what the ultimate results of that could be.
Heh. My local paper had a shocking headline today: “Proof found for Einstein’s theory!”
Maybe I should give them a call and tell them that General Relativity was in pretty good shape already.
Keep in mind, when we discovered light outside the visible spectrum, we didn’t know what that meant either. But boy, look how it transformed our world!
What completely blows my mind is the magnitude of the event that was detected, from the Wikipedia entry:
“Analysis of the signal along with the inferred redshift suggested that it was produced by the merger of two black holes with masses of 36+5
−4 times and 29±4 times the mass of the Sun, resulting in a post-merger black hole of 62±4 solar masses. The missing 3.0±0.5 solar masses of energy was radiated away in the form of gravitational waves, in accordance with mass–energy equivalence.
During the final 20 milliseconds of the merger, the power of the radiated gravitational waves peaked at about 3.6×1049 watts — more than the combined power of all light radiated by all the stars in the observable universe. “The total power output in the gravitational waves during the brief collision was 50 times greater than all of the power put out by all of the stars in the universe put together,” Kip Thorne said.”
Bolding mine, and holy crap. :eek:
Must had been a pretty awful day in the neighbourhood.
“Across the 0.2-second duration of the detectable signal, the relative tangential (orbiting) velocity of the black holes increased from 30% to 60% of the speed of light.”
From 30% of the Speed of Light to 60% in 0.2 seconds, mind boggling; I don’t know if there’s any tentative explanation of how things unfolded before that, but it would be interesting to know.