America’s National Science Foundation will host a press conference in Washington D.C on Thursday, on the latest developments on the detection of gravitational waves, which could help in the study of mysterious objects such as black holes.
Scientists from California Institute of Technology and Massechusetts Institute of Technology will discuss the results of their research that they gathered using the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO).
2016 marks the 100 years since Albert Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves.
Einstein predicted gravity waves in his general theory of relativity, but to date these ripples in the fabric of space-time have never been observed.
What are gravitational waves?
We know from Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity, published in 1915, that really massive objects can curve the fabric of spacetime around them.
In some ways, it’s similar to a bowling ball sinking into and deforming a taut sheet.
So we know spacetime can be warped, and this has some crazy implications.
When a big object suddenly accelerates, for example, it should create ripples through spacetime, called gravitational waves, that are similar to the ripples raindrops create on the surface of a lake.
Physicists think we should be able to spot these ripples when a star explodes, or when two massive objects collide, like when two black holes merge.
How do we detect them?
Physicists have used increasingly complex instruments in hopes of finding them.
LIGO — a huge, L-shaped, laser-powered detector — has been looking for gravitational waves since it opened in 2002, to no avail.
However, a more powerful, advanced LIGO went online in September 2015.
If gravitational ripples are passing by Earth, these instruments should detect disturbances in a very sensitive laser beam setup. (But it’s not easy. Even a truck driving by or a farmer plowing a field can disturb the laser beams.)
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The effect of Gravity Waves on the Earth
In his 1983 Ph.D. dissertation, Paul LaViolette called attention to terrestrial dangers of Galactic core explosions, pointing out that the arrival of the cosmic ray superwave they produced would be signaled by a high intensity gamma ray burst which would also generate a strong gravity wave that might be expected to travel forward at the forefront of this superwave and might be the first indication of a superwave’s arrival. He pointed out that such gravity waves could induce substantial tidal forces on the Earth during their passage which could induce earthquakes and cause polar axis torquing effects.
If a gravity wave can distort the space between matter, even on a small scale, the cumulative effect of the earth’s core, with its dense mass, and the mantle could result in movement of the crust. The result would be an earthquake.
Gamma Ray Bursts, Gravity Waves, and Earthquakes
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