Gravitational wave breakthrough proves final Einstein theory

U.S. physicists say they've detected gravitational waves for the very first time, marking a discovery that proves one of Albert Einstein's last unverified theories about the universe.

See Full Article

Einstein theorized that gravitational waves are tiny ripples in the fabric of space-time created by all objects moving through time and space. Researchers from the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory revealed Thursday that they've detected some of these ripples, created by the collision of two gigantic black holes.

The discovery is expected to open up a whole new avenue for physicists to examine the nature and history of the universe, by allowing them to observe the gravitational properties of massive bodies in space.

The discovery comes 100 years after Einstein first predicted the existence of gravitational waves, as part of his theory of relativity.

What is a gravitational wave?

The simplest way to grasp the idea of gravitational waves is to picture all of space-time as a big, stretchy trampoline. (Space-time, by the way, is our three-dimensional existence, plus time. Just as something can be located at an X, Y and Z coordinate in the three-dimensional world, it also has a time coordinate in space-time).

If all of space-time is like a trampoline, then a large object, such as the sun, is like a bowling ball weighing down a spot on the trampoline. For comparison's sake, the Earth would be like a marble, spiraling in circles around the large depression made by the bowling ball (i.e. the sun). These objects send out gravitational waves as they move across space-time, like ripples moving through the fabric of a trampoline. They're very, very minute, but they're there, and scientists believe they've learned how to detect them.

But because the waves are so hard to detect, the LIGO researchers had to look for something that would make a massive wave, such as the collision of two black holes. It would be like putting two elephants on the trampoline at the same time.

How did they detect the waves?

According to Einstein's theory, gravitational waves stretch and squeeze reality ever so slightly, so that we can't even see it happening. However, light doesn't play by the same rules, so it actually appears to warp as it travels past large objects – although it's actually reality changing, not the light. Astronomer Arthur Eddington confirmed that element of Einstein's theory in 1919, when he observed light "bending" as it travelled past the sun.

The LIGO project is based on this theory that a gravitational wave will bend all of reality, except light. The LIGO set up twin detectors in Livingston, La., and Hanford, Wash., with lasers shining down four-kilometre tunnels. Researchers then waited for a massive gravitational wave to pass through Earth, warping space-time ever so slightly, and thereby changing the relative distance traveled by the lasers. According to Einstein's theory, the change would be incredibly minute, so the instruments had to be very precise in order to detect and measure it.

Is it for real?

The scientific community has already had a false positive when it comes to detecting gravitational waves, so scrutiny of this new discovery will be intense.

In 2014, a team of Harvard researchers claimed to have detected gravitational waves triggered by the so-called "Big Bang" that theoretically started the universe. However, that discovery was debunked early last year, when closer analysis revealed that cosmic dust was responsible for the phenomenon.



Advertisements

Latest Tech & Science News

  • Rio2016, Election2016, PokemonGo top global Twitter trends

    Tech & Science CTV News
    The Rio Olympics, the American presidential election and Pokemon Go were the top global trends on Twitter in 2016. The social media site says Rio2016 was the most tweeted-about topic around the world, followed by Election2016 and PokemonGo. Source
  • Tech companies move to target terrorist propaganda online

    Tech & Science CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube are joining forces to more quickly identify the worst terrorist propaganda and prevent it from spreading online. The new program announced Monday would create a database of unique digital "fingerprints" to help automatically identify videos or images the companies could remove. Source
  • IBM begins beta testing to teach Watson more to combat cybercrime

    Tech & Science CTV News
    FREDERICTON -- Just seven months after IBM announced it would begin teaching its Watson computer system to fight cybercrime, the company is graduating Watson to the next level of instruction. Caleb Barlow, vice-president of IBM Security, says 40 organizations will begin beta testing of the cognitive technology. Source
  • Rhode Island School of Design works with NASA on Mars suit

    Tech & Science CTV News
    PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- When scientists are trying to figure out how to live in near-isolation in a dome to simulate a Mars mission, the last thing they'll need is an ill-fitting space suit. So one of the nation's top design schools has come to the rescue. Source
  • Track friends and family in real-time with Google's new 'Trusted Contacts' app

    Tech & Science CTV News
    A new personal safety app by Google released on Dec. 5 enables users to follow the movements of "Trusted" contacts in real-time and vice versa. Google's latest app is advertised as the solution to getting in touch with a person when they aren't necessarily available to talk, such as in a meeting, on a run or, in extreme cases, during a medical emergency. Source
  • The science of studying: How students can put their brains to best use

    Tech & Science CBC News
    It's that time of year again: exams are here and students around the country are busy trying to cram as much information into their brains as they can. Trying to retain several months' worth of information in a stressful situation can be challenging. Source
  • World's first polluted river was contaminated by Neolithic humans learning to smelt 7,000 years ago

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Neolithic humans who were learning how to smelt were responsible for the world's first polluted river approximately 7,000 years ago, a team of international researchers has found. The riverbed in the Wadi Faynan region of southern Jordan is now dry, but researchers found evidence of pollution caused by heating blue-green copper ore and charcoal over fire during the Copper Age. Source
  • Warming to trigger 3 times as many downpours in U.S.: study

    Tech & Science CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Extreme downpours -- like those that flooded Louisiana, Houston and West Virginia earlier this year -- will happen nearly three times as often in the United States by the end of the century, and six times more frequently in parts of the Mississippi Delta, according to a new study. Source
  • Campaign aims to educate Canada's youth about changing technology

    Tech & Science CTV News
    OTTAWA - A campaign aimed at encouraging young people to get into computer programming is getting a boost from Justin Trudeau. The prime minister is set to join the co-founders of Canada Learning Code and Code.org today to mark the launch of Computer Science Education Week at an event called Hour of Code, with several dozen students gathered at Ottawa-based e-commerce firm Shopify. Source
  • Fukushima reactor briefly loses cooling during inspection

    Tech & Science CTV News
    TOKYO -- One of the melted reactors at the tsunami-hit Fukushima nuclear power plant had a temporary loss of cooling Monday when a worker accidentally bumped a switch while passing through a narrow isle of switch panels during an inspection and turned off the pumping system. Source