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Friday, February 12, 2016

Gravitational Waves Discovered

Dr Albert Einstein in his General Theory of Relativity showed how space becomes wrapped around a physical body. The more massive the object,the greater is the space- time curve. He also predicted when two black holes merged or if there was a supernova explosion, it would generate gravitational waves, similar to the effect that is created when a hammer hits a bell. 

The theoretical prediction of gravitational waves had existed for about a hundred years. It is only now that physicists at LIGO(Laser Interferometer Gravitational Observatory) have got evidence of gravitational waves.

The LIGO laboratory works by bouncing laser beams  back and forth along two 4 km long tubes. It allows physicists to observe very minute disturbances in space time. On 14 September last year they picked up a large change in their laboratory in Louisiana. After a gap of 7 milliseconds, they made a similar observation at their laboratory in Hanford, Washington. 


Gravitational
Source - LIGO
For months physicists rigorously studied this signals to verify if they were something else. On February 11th LIGO made the announcement of the discovery. Thus Dr Einstein's last prediction has now been conclusively proved. Indeed what a great scientist he was. 

The gravitational waves travel at the speed of light. The gravitational waves observed at LIGO is said to have originated 1.3 billion years ago due to the merging of two black holes. Now it remains to be seen how we utilize gravitational waves in the future. The discovery of x-rays, electromagnetic waves etc, had tremendouly influenced our lives. Let's hope gravitational waves does the same. 

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