Albert Einstein is the gold standard of intelligence, so much so even brilliant comedians will change their names just to avoid the pressure of being named Albert Einstein. But, for decades, one of Einstein’s theories has remained impossible to prove. Until now.
Einstein’s theory of general relativity is more or less how we understand how gravity works in physics and reconciled Newton’s laws of physics with the weird, abstract physics of the time Einstein and his contemporaries were working in. A lot of modern physics, especially astrophysics, has been built on Einstein’s theory, so the more proof we have that it’s not a theory, but a law, the less likely we are to have to scrap our entire understanding of how our existence works and start all over again.
One of the big problems, though, was gravitational waves. According to Einstein’s theory, bodies with gravity should send out ripples in spacetime, like a rock dropped in a pond. The problem, as you might have guessed, is that these aren’t exactly big, obvious waves, but rather subtle and hard to detect, and so weak they can easily be interfered with. We’ve had indirect evidence of gravitational waves for a while, but scientists like direct evidence, and direct evidence would prove the theory once and for all.
And we might finally have some. The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, or LIGO, has been working on this for approximately 20 years now. And it’s believed that those decades of work are finally paying off; the LIGO team might announce results as soon as tomorrow. If they do, their results will immediately be subjected to intense scrutiny as everyone tries to replicate them. Should the results hold up, essentially we will have a better grasp of how the universe works, and we can then move onto practical applications of theory. Like, for example, a gravity gun.
(Via The Verge)