Discovery of Gravitational Waves from Colliding Black Holes

(system) #1
It's not everyday that scientists detect infinitesimally small ripples in the fabric of space-time.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at


Yes. And it kind of makes my typical day seem a bit trivial by comparison. (Hey, anything that keeps me humble is probably a very good thing.)

(Manuel David Morales) #3

Great news!

This important discovery is the beginning of a new age in astronomy. From today onwards we can observe the sky not only detecting electromagnetic radiation, but also gravitational radiation.

In addition, I just would like to mention the important role of numerical relativity in this discovery. The modelling of gravitational waves by computers is a big effort too.

Thank God for science :smile:

(George Brooks) #4

Little known fact!

(Robert J. Kurland, Ph.D.) #5

This is really a fine piece of work but one must be cautious and see if the results can be replicated. For a very nice exposition of the work and the philosophical issues attendant with this, please see Matt Briggs’ post, "Gravitational Waves and Discovering Cause" .


Here’s a short video: Brian Greene Explains the Discovery of Gravitational Waves

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #7

@DeborahHaarsma ,

Good to hear about a momentous discovery from someone you know who had a connection, even a tenuous one, with those who made that discovery.

One thing that I have noticed is that physicists tend to separate themselves from the rest of humanity, because physics is seen to be esoteric, and everything else is mundane.

Lewis Kraus in the NYT compared this discovery with the current US political campaign. Can we say that the human problems which the campaign are trying to address at least in some quarters are less important that the questions about gravity and the physical structure of the universe that Einstein probed? Krause does not want us to become discouraged by the mundane nature of human politics, and wants us to be turned on by the non-mundane nature of physical science.

The importance of the verification of gravity waves for me is two fold, although it must be remarked that this a confirmation of Einstein’s views which are already well established. However these views are relatively new and their full significance have yet to be understood.

First of all is that all things are relational, nothing is absolute. Relational means interdependent, just as the tides are evidence of the moon’s gravitational pull on the earth, even though the earth is must larger than it. The word usually used is “relative,” which od course is a cognate of “relational,” but the best understanding of the significance of Einstein’s Theory, in terms of science, philosophy, and theology is that Reality as we experience it as human beings is relational.

Second, because everything is relational and nothing is absolute, is everything including the universe has a beginning. Before Einstein science could be based on the classical materialist philosophy of Epicurus, but no more.

Because of scientific discoveries and Einstein’s Theory, we know with scientific certainty that the universe has a Beginning. Before the Beginning of the universe there was no time, there was no space, there was no matter, there was no energy, there was no quantum fields. There was absolute unqualified Nihilo.

Lewis Krause and others are trying to get around this scientific reality, but cannot without disproving Einstein’s Theory, which has just been confirmed again. God is the God the Facts, not the God of the gaps.

(Robert J. Kurland, Ph.D.) #8

I’ve posted on this in my blog (again, department of shameless self-promotion), discussing this fine piece of experimental work in the context of how science works. The finding adds to the previous verifications of Einsteins GR theory–the gravitational bending of light, the advance in the perhelion of Mercury, the Gravitational red shift, the frame-dragging effects of Gravity Probe B, and the rate of gravitational-wave energy loss from neutron-star binary pulsars. More importantly it has told us (or will–the final interpretation isn’t altogether clear) whether Einstein’s GR theory or the as yet untested G4V theory of gravity is correct.

(Purpose Nation) #9

Dr. Bob,

From what I’ve read, the G4V theory should have been able to have been tested vs. GR in the Ligo data. Yet, it seems like the Ligo team has been suspiciously silent on the issue. Have you seen any mention of this to date by Ligo or the media? I believe they may have a bombshell coming, but need to scrutinize the data more closely.

(Robert J. Kurland, Ph.D.) #10

Good question!!! I too wondered about this, and surmised from the press release and the pictures of the superimposed blips from Washington and Louisiana that it was the GR predictions that were confirmed. The differences between Einstein’s GR and the G4V predictions (if you look at the link in my post) correspond to differences in polarization, and that should have been pretty much evident since the plane of inclination of the two receiving stations is different by 30 degrees. But that’s my inference and it may not be correct.
If it turns out that the G4V theory is correct, there will be profound implications for other parts of physics also, particularly quantum mechanics and the “measurement problem”.

(Purpose Nation) #11

Agreed, Bob. I’ve been inquiring in a few places and have yet to see anything definitive, that’s what makes me wonder:

(Purpose Nation) #12

Hi Bob, it looks like the question of General Relativity vs. G4v theory is still unresolved. Here’s are response I received from James Cramer on this question: “Dear Brad, Carver Mead says that G4v is not disproved, but calculations are needed to see if it can do as well as GR in fitting the aLIGO data. The problem is that the main differences between G4v and GR predictions are in the polarization behavior, and Hanford and Livingston, because their arms are almost parallel, are relatively insensitive to polarization. A LIGO colloquium speaker at UW last week said that they may have to wait until VIRGO in Italy comes on line (real soon now, but they need to see an event after it does) to have the polarization sensitivity to falsify one of the predictions.Regards, John Cramer” So it appears we have to wait a while. I also wonder if eLISA (the space version of LIGO) will provide any answers.

(Robert J. Kurland, Ph.D.) #13

Thanks for the information–I’m a little surprised by that, given the tone and text of the press release. Also I’ve read that the Louisiana and Washington installations were at a 30 degree inclination, which I would have thought would have given information about polarization.