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Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Dipper, Feb 12, 2016.
Check it -->
That neat or what?
It's more than neat... as the guy in the video said, it's hard to overstate the importance of this. As a physicist I'm very excited. :3 plus, as opposed to the false discovery of a while back, this one has a statistical significance of about 5.1 sigma... or, if I recall correctly, only about a 1 in 270000 chance of being wrong.
Also, what was sort of glossed over is that this is actually also the first ever observation of the merging of stellar-mass black holes, which are theorised to be the origin of the supermassive black holes we believe lie at the centre of galaxies. That in itself is monumental news, as black holes are very very difficult to observe - it's just being overshadowed by the HOLY FUCK GRAVITATIONAL WAVES hype.
A long time ago in a Galaxy far far away...
Something seriously awesome and on a whole other scale of "Cool from here, Deathly terrifying if over there" has happened. :P
I love science-y shit as much as the next faux nerd following the geek trend too but.. What does it mean for anyone who has no idea WHAT IT MEANS
Well, think about the invention of the telescope and how much of a difference that must've made for astronomers during that time; without it, we couldn't possibly know what we know today about space.
Galileo even used the telescope to help prove that the Earth orbited the Sun, instead of the other way around, that's how bloody important it was.
This discovery is basically the equivalent of that.
There's all the complicated stuff about Einstein's theory of general relativity getting yet another rousing confirmation by knocking out one of the last contentious differences between it and Newtonian physics, but that's not all that important to trendy geek types.
The hype thing that might lead to overblown sensationalized news pieces in the coming year is that this means gravity is a detectable thing similar to electromagnetic radiation (which includes visible light, X-rays, gamma rays, and so on), and that which can be detected can be used to "see" (in the same way we can "see" heat radiating off things with infrared sensors that translate the data into colors we can see) things very far away. Similar to how we use devices to detect electromagnetic radiation to see and "see" things very far away in the universe, it's possible that gravitational waves could do the same thing. The kicker is that where electromagnetic radiation is slowed or blocked by objects, gravitational waves go right on by with no problems. This means that, should the technology for detection become suitably advanced, we might be able to "see" things much farther away. That farther away is both in physical distance and into the past, by the way, because due to the time it takes for these signals to get from their originating point all the way here to where we can detect them means they happened millions or billions of years ago.
TL;DR silly exaggerated popular science version: WE'RE GONNA SEE STUFF WAY FARTHER AWAY AND WAY FARTHER INTO THE PAST! WE'RE GONNA BE ABLE TO SEE THE START OF THE FUCKING UNIVERSE!!!
Atop what Jorick said: it also gives us a lot of information on black holes. It's a way to analyse them - previously this has been a huge issue due to their absorption of electromagnetic radiation. They're very very difficult to find and being able to detect the gravitational waves caused by binary black hole systems makes that a whole lot easier. Considering black holes are one of the biggest mysteries in physics and astronomy this is big news. Like I said before - the detection of this binary black hole system is a huge discovery in itself. The fact that they could detect it is a huge thing even aside from the other repercussions of the discovery of gravitational waves.
EDIT: Also these waves will also allow us to research the nature of the theorised graviton (think photons but for gravity instead of light/electromagnetic radiation.) That photons are massless is why light is limitless in range. It can travel through space infinitely far assuming it collides with no objects. If gravitational waves are infinite in range too then it means gravitons (should they exist) are also massless.
Step one in my time machine plan complete...