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Day 255: Goosebumps : Gravitational Waves

Image Courtesy: Google Images

The past couple of days has been a wonderful period for the scientific community. The detection of gravitational waves by LIGO has brought out many other avenues and ideas that probably were not thought of until yesterday. Einstein, the genius who has been a subject of much research and speculation has even had his brain studied to understand how his brain worked or at least how much of his brain did he use. The theory of relativity proposed by Sir Albert Einstein has revolutionized the thinking of the world. This changed how we looked at the concept of time, mass, energy, gravity, and of course, space. He was the first to calculate the speed of light and confirm that the speed of light never changed.

From a Kuhnian  perspective, he was the reason for a paradigm shift. Prior to Einsteinian physics, Newtonian physics was prevalent. Using the philosopher Hume's argument on how time cannot stand alone in the context of how things worked, Einstein proposed the theory of relativity. If we use the interesting quote of Einstein himself, it says " When you spend time with a beautiful girl, an hour feels like a minute and when you sit on a hot stove, a minute feels like an hour. " In other words, he observes that laws of physics do not change for any object which is moving in a constant speed. This lead to his proposition that there will be gravitational waves in space that will cause an alternate decrease and increase in the distance between the objects. Thus, in short there could be oscillatory movement even as we sit. This is really small that we never experience it in everyday life.

This was never proved as they could never scientifically gather any data to support it and hence, was considered an incorrect phenomenon so far until LIGO proved otherwise. LIGO- Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory found a chirp in their detector which is present in Washington State and Louisiana. The team of scientists belonged to various schools like Caltech, MIT, Louisiana State. The work was supported by NSF. The chirp was caused by the gravitational waves which are due to the merge or collision of two black holes in a distant galaxy almost 1.2 billion ago.

This will surely change our perspectives about the universe and probably can help us understand the mystical cosmos. Who knows what we will find? Probably more details on another universe, or may be even the reasons for why and how we are here. Time will only tell. It has taken 100 years to agree and accept the waves and that itself proves that 'when it is time' we will find the answers.

By the way, I was overjoyed by this news and also about writing this post. This is one of the few hard core science posts that I have written in the recent times. That too a topic in physics!  Hopefully, I will have to challenge myself to write something like this more often during this 365 day post! Let me know your thoughts on both the topic and the post!

References:

1. CNN News : http://www.cnn.com/2016/02/11/us/gravitational-waves-feat/
2. LIGO site: https://www.ligo.caltech.edu/page/what-are-gw

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