Physicists have announced the discovery of gravitational waves, ripples in spacetime first anticipated by Albert Einstein a century ago.
“We have detected gravitational waves. We did it,” said David Reitze, executive director of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (Ligo), at a press conference in Washington.
The announcement is the climax of a century of speculation, 50 years of trial and error, and 25 years perfecting a set of instruments so sensitive they could identify a distortion in spacetime a thousandth the diameter of one atomic nucleus across a 4km strip of laserbeam and mirror.
The phenomenon was detected by the collision of two black holes. Using the world’s most sophisticated detector, the scientists listened for 20 thousandths of a second as the two giant black holes, one 35 times the mass of the sun, the other slightly smaller, circled around each other.
Now the O in LIGO can be instantly relevant. :D
They caught it so fast they were still in "engineering mode".....and the signal was many times its detection limit.
A new window on the cosmos is now open.
That Einstein chap was really on his game.
Since dark matter and energy exhibit gravitational effects (one attractive and the other repulsive), a gravity-based telescope might allow us to see the more than 90% of the universe we now know is there but is invisible to us.
In abstract. From a practical perspective, the magnitude of the detectable waves still needs to be a percentage of a proton in scale...so two giant black holes colliding, sure...piece of cake.
A few random dark particles or a patch of dark radiation, etc...not so easy.
The most likely next discoveries would be projected to be more long the lines of finding more distant massive bodies, exploring the behavior of massive bodies, and exploring the nature of spacetime in general.
This in turn will lead to refinements needed to explore other issues, etc.
With most (all?) telescopes, a brand new technology comes along, then comes along ways of amplifying and clarifying the images. I think we are at the beginning of gravitational telescopy. Unfortunately, I probably won't live long enough to start seeing some of the things such telescopes will someday reveal.
I don't know what the next big advance in physics and cosmology might be. Perhaps some way to verify string theory, branes, and a multiverse.
Gravity is such an astoundingly weak force compared to electromagnetism, that it turns out the event that was detected generated a power spike briefly greater than the power output of the entire rest of the visible universe.
One thing we have to work on is sensitivity, tens of orders of magnitude worth of work.
Here's an update.
So far, they have been identifying the events associated with the detected waves.
The next break through might be a wave detection that reached us from a different universe (an unknown part at least...) somewhere in the unknown cosmos...
A clue as to what might lay beyond the known universe.
Personally, my gut instincts (as contrasted with expertise in cosmology, etc, for example...), tell me that there might be an infinite number of big bang events happening at the same time, given the infinite amount of space out there...
...but that the infinite distances involved probably preclude us finding out about them any time soon....and the known universe is all we have to work with in the interim.
Being planet-centric, I'd like the earth's inhabitants to be able to have colonized the entire cosmos eventually...as opposed to being wiped out when our sun turns to a red giant/wipes out our solar system, the Milky Way collides with Andromeda, Triangulum, etc....albeit the sun itself is probably the single most glaring vulnerability, given decent odds that our solar system might survive the merging of galaxies.
The idea of "infinite" space is problematic. Space is kind of a function of whatever is in it, is it not?
Space is what things are in....so, no conundrum.
IE: Space cannot have a boundary, as, what would be outside of it?
Hence, space is infinite.
Time is also infinite, as there can be no point before it, or, after it.
The combination is known as Spacetime.
This is a "thing", and, it can be warped and manipulated.
It makes the cosmos SO interesting.
On a related note, the idea of the "Known Universe" and "time" get confused by lay people...especially when dumbed down articles refer to when "time started" and so forth.
Time didn't start at the big bang...there was time before it. Our known universe's clock started then though, on its birth day. (So a year later, the known universe was 1 year old...)
Other universes, with their own bangs, etc...are another story, for which we simply have no data.
So, when The Big Bang happened, are you thinking there was an infinitude of previously eternally unused space waiting for the matter to come through, or did the matter bring space with it along with The Big Bang? If the latter, matter is a function of space. But the idea of an infinitude of space just sitting there, time ticking away forever (in the past direction), waiting for matter to happen...that is really kind of absurd, isn't it?
I agree. Nothing awaits nothing like space [awaits nothing].
But the idea of an infinitude of space just sitting there, time ticking away forever (in the past direction), waiting for matter to happen...that is really kind of absurd, isn't it?
To minds steeped in religion, it's heretical.