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Gravitational Waves

Posted on February 11, 2016

There’s a HUGE bit of news today, an international team have announced that they’ve discovered gravitational waves: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-35524440

I haven’t had chance to read the original research paper (unsurprizingly the journal website is struggling to keep up) but I fully intend to.

As a former astronomy, I can’t express how important this is. This is massive.

Firstly, it’s yet another confirmation that Einstein’s theory of General Relativity is correct. This might sound trivial, but the more evidence we can gather about the things we conceptually understand, the more confidence it gives us to pursue the things that we don’t. Right now we don’t understand what dark matter and dark energy are, but the theory that’s telling us it’s out there is looking increasingly solid, so there’s clearly some interesting physics yet to be understood.

Secondly, this marks the beginning of a new age of astronomy. In 1610 Galileo turned his improved telescope to the heavens and discovered the moons of Jupiter. Since then we’ve expanding our studies of the sky into the radio, microwave, infra-red, ulra-violet, X-ray and Gamma rays. This has lead to some remarkable discoveries, but all of these are still electromagnetic radiation, to a certain extent they’re all aspects of the same thing. Gravity waves are something different, they’re a completely different way of looking/listening (sensorary verbs start to fail when you’re talking about something we can experience directly) to the Universe.

A new age of discovery has just begun, lets see what we can see out there.

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