Einstein’s Prediction Of Gravitational Waves Proven Correct: An Explanation
When it comes to genius, the name that everyone thinks of is Einstein. Einstein was beyond his time when he came up with the Theory of Relativity when he was just a patent clerk in 1905. But what has given scientists the most trouble for the past 100 years was proving his theory of gravitational waves. This theory hypothesized that the collision of black holes created gravitational waves.
In physics, gravitational waves are ripples in the curvature of spacetime which propagate as waves, travelling outward from the source. Predicted in 1916 by Albert Einstein on the basis of his theory of general relativity, gravitational waves transport energy as gravitational radiation. The existence of gravitational waves is a possible consequence of the Lorentz invariance of general relativity since it brings the concept of a finite speed of propagation of the physical interactions with it. By contrast, gravitational waves cannot exist in the Newtonian theory of gravitation, which postulates that physical interactions propagate at infinite speed.
To put it a bit simpler: What happens when a black hole crashes into another black holes, it will create a ripple effect in space and time. Kind of like tossing a pebble into a pond. The ripples will travel as far as they can, but the ripples get smaller and smaller as they get further from the point of impact. These gravitational waves will travel through spacetime for billions of years before hitting Earth. Like the ripples in a pond that become almost undetectable, the gravitational waves become harder to see.
How do you spot these waves? You can spot them by looking at atoms and waiting to see them shake a tiny bit. The more difficult part about observing this is that an atom that isn’t at absolute zero is vibrating constantly. Imagine trying to see something shake a little bit when it’s already vibrating?
On February 11, 2016, The Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) and Virgo Collaboration teams managed to finally discover gravitational waves using the Advanced LIGO detectors from a pair of black holes merging. Scientists are freaking out about it. Why? Because it can change a lot about what we know about the universe.
One big thing we can do is study black holes most closely. If you look up at the sky at night, you’ll probably guess that there is a ton of stuff happening up there. The problem is that a lot of it doesn’t give off any light, which makes it harder to study. With the discovery of gravitational waves, this gives scientists another weapon in the assault on learning as much as possible. Not only that, it also piles on more evidence onto Einstein’s already amazing understanding of modern physics with his Theory of Relativity — a major plus for scientists not having to back to the drawing board to figure out what gravitational waves have just given them.
Now, with this discovery, scientists will be looking for more things like dark matter and dark energy. The possibilities with the discovery of gravitational waves is endless. Check out the announcement below. Listening to all the excitement from scientist and astronomers shows you how inspired they are to move on to the next step.
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Jeff Sorensen is an author, writer and occasional comedian living in Detroit, Michigan. You can look for more of his work on The Huffington Post,UPROXX,BGR and by just looking up his name.