Dude’s still on a roll after all these years.
And the world’s better for it. Sometimes, though, it takes a while before we all realize it.
Ponder that thought while you’re reading this on your smartphone, tablet, laptop, or PC. They’d never have existed without big-picture discoveries. The same can be said for many other modern conveniences.
So, the confirmation of another theory segment by one of history’s greatest minds portends to another leap in mankind’s technological acuity.
Let’s set the stage for this development:
- 100 years ago, Einstein predicted the existence of these waves, ripples that contract and expand the space-time around them.
- Thus, any two bodies in orbit emit gravitational waves, bending the space-time around them.
Two premises, then:
- Waves are common in the universe whenever a body moves. Light waves, sound waves, radio waves, and X-rays are all part of the same spectrum. Thus, the existence of gravitational waves fits an accepted model.
- If scientists are going to detect gravitational waves, it would be logical to look for two of the largest bodies in the universe: black holes.
Frankly, no one knew for sure if black holes actually merged together to create even more-massive black holes, but now there’s physical proof.
“It’s like Galileo pointing the telescope for the first time at the sky. You’re opening your eyes — in this case, our ears — to a new set of signals from the universe that our previous technologies did not allow us to receive, study and learn from.”
— LIGO team member Vassiliki alogera, a professor of physics and astronomy at Northwestern University
Again, in reference to its ultimate impact on our daily lives:
“When Einstein predicted general relativity, who would have predicted that we’d use it every day when we use our cellphones?”
— LIGO Executive Director David Reitze, California Institute of Technology
Einstein’s general theory of relativity provides an understanding of how gravity influences the passing of time. This information is necessary for GPS technology, which uses satellites that orbit further away from the gravitational pull of the Earth than people on the surface.
As noted, the first visionaries on the scene are science fiction writers. In this case, Larry Niven’s The Hole Man may be paving the way. In it, astronauts discover a gravitational wave communication device on Mars, left by an alien race.
The device contains a quantum black hole in its center, which carries a charge that allows it to be vibrated by electromagnetic fields to produce modulated gravitational waves for long range communications.
Not sure if the alien race will hold up its end, but as cinematic giant Stanley Kubrick also postulated, advances such as this signal great things for the future of mankind.
And who knows? They may occur sooner rather than later.