Friday 12 February 2016
In 1915, Einstein’s theory of general relativity presented a new way of understanding how the Universe worked.
It was a whole new way of thinking about time and space—but it was all theory.
Over the intervening century, nearly all of Einstein’s work has been proven. Except no one could find the gravity waves—dubbed ‘the drums of heaven’ by some physicists.
This morning, researchers at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) announced they had successfully detected gravity waves for the first time.
After spending the past century trying to prove that these waves exist, many scientists, including Einstein himself, had thought that the waves were too small to be detected.
It’s taken until now for us to have the technology to measure them and prove the final link in that puzzle.
“This is absolutely incredible technology,” says AIP President Warrick Couch. “And what’s really impressive is that the LIGO detectors in Louisiana and Washington detected the waves simultaneously.”
Researchers from six Australian universities and CSIRO have contributed their expertise to make this discovery possible, most notably David Blair’s Group at the University of Western Australia and David McClelland’s team at the Australian National University.
“What’s really satisfying for me is the very strong involvement of Australian physicists and astrophysicists in the development of gravitational wave detectors and this very first detection,” says Warrick.
“This discovery will also be the beginning of a whole new realm of physics – gravitational wave astrophysics.”
“The gravitational waves that have been detected are likely to have been produced by the merger of two black holes—and that is something we’ve not been able to see before.”
“The ability of ALIGO to detect gravitational waves from such dramatic events will allow them to be located in the Universe and be followed up by telescopes, with any associated radiation providing vital additional information on these enigmatic objects.”
Warrick Couch: President of the Australian Institute of Physics and Director of the Australian Astronomical Observatory on +61 413 011 371 or firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information:
More expert reaction and commentary available via the AusSMC www.scimex.org/newsfeed/have-we-found-gravitational-waves