Wednesday, February 10, 2016

First Detection of Gravitational Radiation?

It's totally irresponsible for scientists to spread rumors on the Internet, so I will wait until after the break to do so.

The LIGO experiment, which was built to detect gravitational radiation, is set to make a major announcement tomorrow. The rumor (which has become an open secret) is that they will announce the first direct detection of gravitational radiation from colliding black holes. If true, this will be one of the most important discoveries of the century. It won't be the actual first evidence for gravitational radiation -- binary pulsar measurements provide indirect evidence from the way that the orbit of the binary pulsar changes. And the discovery is not unexpected -- Einstein's theory of general relativity has passed every test that has been thrown at it, and gravitational radiation is a very fundamental prediction of the theory. What the detection of gravitational radiation will do is open up an entirely new window on the universe, comparable to the invention of radio astronomy. And every time we've opened up such a window, we've seen strange and wonderful things. So stay tuned.

Update:  Yes, they saw gravitational radiation from colliding black holes.  A new era in science begins today.

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