By: Shumail Hassan

In 2014, the atmosphere of the Antarctica was considered the best and optimum for the experimentation purposes. The climate there is rather dry and no prowling and strolling signals found there. The particles and the signals may halt and hinder anything in air.

As we know. Until the initial decades of 20th century, time and space were different things i.e. to define the position of a body in space required three regular dimensions of length, width and height and the time. But Einstein proposed that the time and position are two sides of a same image and had some relation in between them. For instance, if you and your fellow on a shuttle revolving on high speeds around earth have solar watches of the same kind, the man on the shuttle will notice that time is passing very slowly as compared to earthly watch. That means, time is also speed-dependent. This can be proved by an experiment that if a person travels with speed very large (like near to that of light, travelling 186000 miles per second) for several hours, his several hours would be the centuries long on earth. On his arrival to earth, he would be in a new epoch and new century. So Einstein says, time slows down at high speeds. This is called ‘time dilation’.

Back towards the General Relativity theory of Einstein, in presence of mass (obviously that of massive heavenly bodies) the gravity can make space-time warp, the alteration in space-time shape. This alteration results in gravitational waves which spread out with speed of light in whole universe. If we are to see those waves, we can say that these are moving up/down and right/left alternatively. Longtime friend of Stephen Hawking and a renowned American theoretical physicist, Professor Kip Stephen Thorne says that we had been considering this space as a serene and still ocean but these gravitational waves resulting from the collision of the black holes have stormed this ocean. This ocean now drifts up and down (like the tides) making the space and time bend towards the either sides. 

All the credits for this discovery go to Laser Interferometer Gravitational Observatory-(LIGO)

We have discovered these waves! So what?

With this discovery of gravitational waves, we have opened a new channel through which we can see many mesmerizing and enchanted things. We can now move towards the black holes of which Einstein had said a century ago. It strengthens our already present theories. It makes our robust ones even stronger. The gravitational lensing and the measurement of the expansion of universe are getting new meanings now. Naturally, whenever huge announcements are made of complex scientific discoveries, many people from outside of the scientific community ask how it affects them. But let us have a look on history: When X-rays were discovered by Wilhelm Roentgen in 1895 during his experiments on cathode ray tubes, few would have known that in only a few years these high-energy electromagnetic waves would become a key component in everyday medicine from diagnosis to treatment. Similarly, the first experimental production of radio waves in 1887 by Heinrich Hertz confirmed the predictions by James Clerk Maxwell’s famous electromagnetic equations. Years later, circa 1890, a series of demonstrations by Marconi, who set up radio transmitters and receivers, proved they had a practical use. Also, Schrodinger’s equations describing the unfathomable world of quantum dynamics are finding an application in the development of the super-fast quantum computing

Figure 1 This simulation shows the merging of two stellar-mass black holes, their gravity warping the starlight in the background.

Figure 2 This is an aerial photograph of the LIGO Livingston Observatory in Louisiana.


References: The columns of Prof. Atta ur Rahman


Published in Young Nation on May 21, 2016