Anyone care to explain this to me? I gather it's the most groundbreaking discovery this century and proves Einstein's theory, but... my brain doesn't get it, sigh. I need it explaining in 'Idiots Guide To...' sentences.
Take an old balloon and stretch it across a teacup, holding it in position with one hand. You can imagine it as an ant's trampoline. Now take a pencil and press the middle down one centimetre in the middle. Place an ant on the edge and watch it walk across the surface. It tries to walk in a straight line but because the surface dips in the middle, the ant walks in a wonky path without realising it. Gravity has that effect on space. It distorts space so that when we try to travel in a straight line in a spaceship, we actually travel on a wonky path.
Now imagine two very heavy planets* careering towards each other in a head-on collision. Each planet distorts space in the same way that the pencil distorts the ant's trampoline. But when they collide, the distortions in space change so rapidly, they send shock waves throughout the galaxy. Ligo has recently detected those shock waves.
* Ligo actually detected two black holes colliding with each other but it's the same principle, just more impressive.
Post by raspberrybullets on Feb 15, 2016 8:36:20 GMT
Gee I didn't see any headlines about travel here when they announced the news. They had some beautiful images though.
The sight filled the northern sky; the imensity of it was scarcely conceivable. As if from Heaven itself, great curtains of delicate light hung and trembled. Pale green and rose-pink, and as transparent as the most fragile fabric, and at the bottom edge a profound fiery crimson like the fires of Hell, they swung and shimmered loosely with more grace than the most skillful dancer. ~ Northern Lights
I gather it's the most groundbreaking discovery this century and proves Einstein's theory
Technically, it only proves another prediction of Einstein's theory of Relativity, the last in a series of predictions that have been proven experimentally (for example, GPS only works because time dilation due to the change in the gravitational field works exactly as predicted by Einstein). You can't really prove a scientific theory. You can only prove its predictions experimentally one after another, within a margin of measurement error, and the theory remains correct as long as its predictions are correct, which is the case for Relativity so far.
“We think we understand the rules when we become adults but what we really experience is a narrowing of the imagination.”