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What Gravitational Waves Mean

What Gravitational Waves Mean

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Tuesday, October 3, 2017/Categories: natural history, video, space science, art and design, environment, adventure

                                      Merging Black Holes, artist concept (credit: NASA-JPL/CalTech)

The Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to three Americans today for their work on detecting gravity waves. Rainer Weiss of MIT as well as Kip Thorne and Barry Barish of CalTech will share the prize for detection of the natural phenomenon predicted by Albert Einstein's in his General Theory of Relativity in 1909.

The three researchers envisioned a Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory or LIGO which might allow them to detect a gravity waves as a "sound signal" when run through an amplifier. They focused their eventual machine on the collision of two black holes more than a billion years ago in a very distant galaxy. The black holes had been locked in a death spiral with each other and combined into a single black hole releasing an explosion of energy. LIGO made the first detections of the resulting gravity waves. The possible discoveries now made possible by LIGO are almost the stuff of science fiction.

As the Nobel Committee said in their award announcement on their discovery:

"this is something completely new and different, opening up unseen worlds. A wealth of discoveries awaits those who succeed in capturing the waves and interpreting their message."

Physicist Allan Adams helps to explain LIGO and the uncovered gravitational physics in a presentation where:

"all the combined energy (from the black holes) was pumped into the fabric of time and space itself, making the universe explode in roiling waves of gravity."



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