The world-famous scientist at first thought that it was impossible to detect gravitational waves. In the end, he made a significant contribution to the confirmation of the opposite.
For the past week, Slovakia has been hosted by world-renowned scientist and renowned American astronomer Kip Thorne. He came at the invitation of the Iset Foundation To give the Iset Science Award to the best Slovak scientists.
In 2017, Thon and two colleagues won the Nobel Prize The first direct detection of gravitational waves. These were one of the topics of discussion last week at the historic building of the Slovak National Theater in Bratislava, and Thorne spoke to Brian Cox, a British particle physicist and science major.
The American scientist clearly explained the principle of gravitational waves, but most importantly how they can be recorded. He did not avoid thinking about the importance of gravitational waves in future observations. In his opinion, it is a way of revealing the secret of the origin of the universe.
Thank you for reading this article ESET Science Award, An award in support of extraordinary science in Slovakia.
Einstein did not believe it either
“There are only two types of waves in the universe – gravitational and electromagnetic,” Thorne said in response to a question about the nature of gravitational waves.
This is a flaw that ripples through the space itself. When a gravitational wave passes through an object, it causes it to expand slightly in width and then in height. “Such waves are created when large objects are accelerated,” Thorne added.
The existence of gravitational waves at the beginning of the last century was predicted by the French mathematician and theoretical physicist Jules Henry Poinger. Later, Albert Einstein also tackled the idea. Their existence proved to be derived from his famous theory of general relativity.
However, he did not believe this result. In 1936, he co-authored a paper with physicist Nathan Rosen, claiming that gravitational waves did not exist. According to his calculations, in addition to these waves, equations predicted the existence of regions with infinite mass.
The current article is by Howard P., a mathematician. Robertson reviewed and pointed out the wrong approach to this issue. Einstein was outraged that someone had reviewed this text before it was published, and he decided to withdraw the article. Later, his assistant convinced him of the accuracy of the criticism, and the edited article was finally published.
The most accurate experiment of all time
Although Einstein was already convinced that there are gravitational waves, he thought that because of their very weak performance, it would be impossible for humans to ever observe them.
The same view tone was shared when considering the design of a device for direct detection of gravitational waves.
“It was clear to me that this was hopeless. It would never succeed. It requires the use of light to measure the motion of a mirror ten million times less accurate than the diameter of an atom,” the scientist said.
“Then I spent most of my career helping test students to prove me wrong.”
This principle was finally implemented in the LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) experiment, which has been in operation since 2002.
Two detectors, located in Hanford, Washington, and Livingston, Louisiana, are used for recording. Detectors consist of two arms placed at right angles. Both are four kilometers long.
A laser beam is emitted into the hands. Initially, it was divided into two arms using a mirror. In them, the rays are then reflected from the edge mirrors and then quickly come to the detector.
However, when a gravitational wave passes through the LIGO, one of the hands is shortened. As a result, the rays do not reach the detector at the same time. “This is the most accurate measure of all time,” says Thorne.
This anomaly was observed by scientists on February 11, 2016. The recorded gravitational waves were created by the collision of two black holes 29-36 times higher than the Sun.
About four months later another observation arrived. To date, up to 50 such incidents have been observed.
By observing gravitational waves, information about the objects they create can be obtained. Thus, Thorne sees in them a way of revealing the secret of the origin of the universe: “We only get gravitational waves from the Big Bang.”
However, he added that although scientists will be able to detect gravitational waves from the beginning of the universe in the coming decades, perhaps they will not yet understand this knowledge.
Record of 2 hours of discussion between Kip Thon and Brian Cox (in English):
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