Gravitational waves are considered one of 2016’s biggest scientific discoveries. First detected in 2015, their existence was confirmed last year by LIGO. And now, the experiment authorities revealed that they are also capable of producing them.
LIGO is the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory. Almost a year ago, the observatory officially recognized the existence of gravitational waves. These latter were first detected sometimes back in September 2015. But were only confirmed last year.
Presently, LIGO released another announcement. And according to it, it now is capable of detecting gravitational waves. And also of emitting them.
But what are gravitational waves? They are ripples in the spacetime curvature. Generated by certain gravitational interactions, they propagate as waves. After being generated, they were noted to propagate in an outward direction from their source.
Henri Poincare was the first to propose their existence. But Albert Einstein predicted and helped make them famous.
LIGO is a large-scale physics observatory and experiment. Last week, involved authorities were reported to have stated the following. Belinda Pang spoke at an American Physical Society meeting. This was held last week. Pang is a California Institute of Technology physicist involved at LIGO.
According to Pang, LIGO could also produce gravitational waves. It could do so as it is optimized for detecting them. Which would also optimize it for emission.
LIGO holds the most sensitive spacetime ripple detector. And reportedly, it could also be the best producer of such waves.
To put it more simply, gravitational waves can be produced as follows. They may be the consequence of massive objects warping spacetime. Basically, these waves could theoretically stretch out time.
Einstein predicted that they could be the product of certain swirling mass configurations. LIGO is capable of detecting the waves by using twin detectors. These uber-sensitive devices can be found in two distinct locations. One is in Livingston, Louisiana. The other is in Hanford, Washington.
Detecting the waves was reportedly just the first research step. These helped the scientists confirm their existence. A further step seems to be trying to generate these specific ripples.
The LIGO research team tested this theory. As they coupled to the waves, the connection theoretically goes both ways. The scientists used a mathematical model. Which proved that they were right. Their detectors are capable of generating gravitational waves. These are optimally efficient, tiny ripples.
Still, this delicate state couldn’t be held for too long. Nonetheless, even this amount of time could help offer a further insight on the matter.
Presently, LIGO is undergoing an upgrade process. This should help its detectors perceive even fainter spacetime ripples. The bigger plan also involves building eLISA. This is the Evolved Laser Interferometer Space Antenna. Built in space, it would also work as a gravitational wave observatory.
Scientists hope that over the next decade, LIGO could increase its powers. It will hopefully start detecting gravitational waves regularly. And also possibly find new ways of creating such ripples.
This could also help advance our understanding of the waves. And also of the quantum world. Which may open the road towards new quantum computers. Or even a new understanding of the physical world.
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