Julia Wilde
Apr 23 · Unlisted

WRITING SAMPLES: Gravitational Waves Announcement


[DNews Open] Hey star-gazers Main A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away…two black holes collided in a fateful swirling waltz. Just like when you toss a rock into a pond and the KERPLUNK creates ripples on the surface of the water, this collision sent ripples through the fabric of space time. And we finally detected one of these ripples or as researchers call them, gravitational waves . We’ve been looking for these 1 kinds of waves for a long time. Albert Einstein first proposed their existence in his theory of relativity, OVER A HUNDRED YEARS AGO. So we’ve been searching for them ever since.

And just how the ripples in the pond get smaller as they move further from the KERPLUNK point, the ripples in spacetime get smaller too. That’s why they are so hard to detect. Until now! Today (LIGO) or the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory announced that they 2 found the galactic KERPLUNK by detecting, or hearing, one of the ripples. shhh listen. Ladies and gentlemen listen to that beautiful sound.

Ahh music to my ears.

This signal was seen on September 14th last year, but the cataclysmic event that caused it happened nearly 1.3 billion years ago when two black holes collided.

While two black holes colliding has been theorized, it hasn’t been observed before. The theory goes that two black holes will circle each other and lose energy that’s released as gravitational waves. Over time, they will get closer and closer over the course of a few billion years then finally collide in a fraction of a second. This releases a large amount of mass as energy in the form of gravitational waves. In this case, the black holes were about 30 times the mass of the Sun and were moving at half the speed of light in that last fraction of a second. This huge impact sent a shock wave of gravitational waves, or ripples in spacetime, through the universe at the speed of light.

But as massive as that collision was, the reverberations that reached us were tiny. Like “one one thousandth the diameter of a proton,” according David Reitze ,(right-z) the executive 3 director of LIGO. LIGO was able to detect such a tiny wiggle by using two labs — one in Livingston, Louisiana, and one in Hanford, Washington.

1 http://news.discovery.com/space/galaxies/gravitational-waves-detected-for-first-time-160211.htm 2 http://www.sciencealert.com/live-update-big-gravitational-wave-announcement-is-happening-right-now 3 http://www.sciencealert.com/live-update-big-gravitational-wave-announcement-is-happening-right-now

The labs used massive and precise lasers. Like 2.5-mile long lasers beams that can read 10,000 times smaller than a proton . These lasers were fired into two L shaped pipes that 4 bounced light around a series of mirrors. A strain in space-time would change the timing of when the lasers reach their destination. And that’s just what happened on that fateful day. The same wiggle showed up on the detectors in the two labs just 7 milliseconds apart.

And more incredible, these wiggles matched up to what supercomputer models of gravitational waves had already predicted. Which were based off of calculations from Einstein’s theory of relativity . 5

So it’s the real deal. We know have solid evidence of gravitational waves, and evidence of binary black holes! And this discovery proves Einstein’s theory. FINALLY.

We’ve been searching for these guys for a century! Rumors have it that this discovery could make the short list for a nobel prize ! 6

Why? Well researchers are hailing that the discovery could be as exciting as when we discovered x-rays. LIGO co-founder said it has “opened a new window onto the Universe”. 7 Studying and tracking gravitational waves will help us better understand black holes, supernovas, other really large space events and even possibly the fundamental laws of the universe.

We’ll learn so much more about the universe and how it works as LIGO upgrades their equipment to become more and more sensitive. And in a few decades the European Space Agency plans to launch a space-based gravitational wave detector. So hopefully more gravitational waves will be detected.

If you want to learn more about this amazing discovery, check out the study published in the journal Physical Review Letters 8

Wow. Just wow guys. so much incredible science happening right now, in our lifetime! Einstein would be so proud.

If gravitational waves seem like a familiar concept, it’s because we’ve talked about them before on DNews. A telescope called BICEP2 is looking for evidence of gravitational waves of a different kind, from the most cataclysmic event of all time, the big bang. To learn more about that, check out these episodes, right here.

4 https://www.ligo.caltech.edu/page/ligos-ifo

5 http://news.discovery.com/space/what-you-need-to-know-about-gravitational-waves-160210.htm

6 http://www.sciencealert.com/live-update-big-gravitational-wave-announcement-is-happening-right-now

7 http://www.sciencealert.com/live-update-big-gravitational-wave-announcement-is-happening-right-now

8 http://authors.library.caltech.edu/64405/


Julia Wilde

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actor/writer/host. Writing about science, LGBT, mental health or cats