A 100 Year Old Prediction Brought Into Existence: Gravitational Waves

Photo Courtesy: www.ligo.caltech.edu/news

Extremely tired of hectic schedules of tuitions and school in parallel, Amit decided to have a power-nap of thirty minutes as soon as he reached home. When he finally entered his room, he jumped on his sofa-bed for that desired power-nap. He was quite amazed to notice the fact that as soon as he jumped onto the sofa-bed, a huge depression appeared on the sofa-bed. Forget about jumping, even sitting on the sofa-bed created a considerable amount of depression. Out of his curiosity, Amit wondered that the heavenly bodies out there in space also should be sitting on something and therefore to suffice his curiosity he began surfing the net for as much information as he can extract about this matter. Within about five to ten minutes he got to know that space is considered as space and time as a whole and is collectively called “space-time”. Further, he got his answer to his query that space-time acts just like his sofa-bed on which everyone is sitting in space! The discovery of curvature of space-time is a phenomenal breakthrough in the history of mankind. A piece of cloth can have ripples on it when a suitable disturbance is given to it. From electrodynamics, we know that static charges produce an electric field, moving charges (with uniform velocity) produce a magnetic field and accelerated charges give rise to electromagnetic waves. If charges can produce waves when accelerated, why not mass?

A renowned mathematician predicted that accelerated masses can produce ripples in the space-time which are now popularly known as gravitational waves. That mathematician was none other than Albert Einstein, who gave the theory of general relativity in 1916. After a century of this prediction, the detection of gravitational waves was finally made in the year 2015 with the help of laser interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) detector.

The above picture is of those mighty brains who were behind this entire field-work and were deservingly awarded the Physics Nobel Prize in the year 2017. Gravitational waves are generated through catastrophic astronomical events such as the collision of neutron stars, a supernovae explosion and also from the collision of two black holes. Infact the LIGO detector can pick up the gravitational waves that travelled 1.3 billion light years from the region where two black holes collided with each other! This detector is really sensitive enough since the amplitude of those gravitational waves were of the order of 10^-45. The best part is that we are far away from the epicenter of those cataclysmic occurrences otherwise! Well, being curious about the advancements in science like Amit is a requisite for today’s students who are into a drill for all the competitive exams around and need the best guidance from masters who will help them dive deeper into the subject matter for enhanced knowledge.