Thursday, August 20, 2009

Gravity Waves, Quantum Astronomy, and Adventure

"Lack of Gravity Waves Puts Limits on Exotic Cosmology Theories " (August 19, 2009)

"This time, scientists are excited to find nothing.

In results announced today, a huge physics experiment built to detect gravitational waves has yet to find any.

"Rather than be disappointed by the null findings, physicists say the results were expected, and in fact help them narrow down possibilities for what the universe was like just after it was born.

"The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory Scientific Collaboration (LIGO) is a set of instruments in Louisiana and Washington built to search for evidence of gravitational waves, which are theoretical ripples in space-time thought to be caused by the acceleration of mass. No one has yet directly detected these waves, though they are predicted by Einstein's theory of General Relativity, and are widely thought to permeate our universe...."

I'm glad to see another article that points out how - and why - unexpected results or no results at all can be a 'winning' situation for scientists.

This article does a pretty good job of describing gravity waves, and why some of the less-likely cosmological theories said there would be more than have been observed.

So far, the predicted "stochastic background" of gravity waves left over from the big bang hasn't been observed - or any other gravity waves for that matter. But that doesn't mean it isn't there: just that it has to be weaker than what this experiment could have detected.

The good news for scientists is that there's a narrower set of criteria that any mathematical model has to satisfy. In other words, there closing in on an explanation for how some of the universe works.

While I'm on the general topic:

"Quantum Astronomy: Information in the Universe" (August 20, 2009)

"This is a short addition to the four-part series on Quantum Astronomy previously written for Here, we add some details resulting from the process of submitting a paper to the scientific literature. If you'd like to read the technical paper it is entitled, 'Quantum Uncertainty Considerations for Gravitational Lens Interferometry' by Doyle and Carico, and can be downloaded at the Web site:

"Having written about four dozen articles now for and I can say that none have given me as much feedback as the series on quantum astronomy. I think people intuit that quantum physics is still redefining how we think of science and what we think the fundamental nature of reality may be, and thus enjoy participating in this amazing modern adventure.

"To quickly summarize the preceding series on the quantum astronomy..."

The article is a bit technical, but gives a glimpse at part of "this amazing modern adventure" that's expanding humanity's knowledge of the universe. Exciting times, these.

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