“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” ~ Albert Einstein
“I want to know God’s thoughts; the rest are details.” ~ Albert Einstein
Many of you must have come across a news article last month on gravitational waves being detected. I finally read it up and thought would share with you what I understood about it and why it is so significant.
A century ago, Einstein in his famous theory of general relativity had predicted the existence of gravitational waves.
What are these waves?
Assume 4 dimensions – length, breadth, height and time. This is known as space-time. When there is an extremely huge mass like a star in this space-time, it bends. To visualize, think about a ball falling in water. Water changes shape near the surface of the ball.
Gravity itself is assumed to be an effect of bending of space-time.
Now if this huge mass travels through space-time, energy is radiated in form of gravitational waves.
But this is theory. At least it was till Sep 2015, when gravitational waves were detected from 2 black holes combining about 1.3 billion light-years from Earth (the announcement was made in Feb 2016).
Why is this detection significant?
- Gravitational waves can travel where electromagnetic waves can’t. Our current technology, based on electromagnetic waves, can probe back in time only till the existence of electromagnetic radiation. But what about before that? Yes, the scientists will start using gravitational wave-astronomy going forth.
- This detection proves that Einstein was on the right track with his theory of general relativity. (You definitely must have heard of some of the popular implications of his theory, like time passing slowly near sea level compared to on Mt. Everest (known as time dilation) or that the passage of time might stop when you travel at the speed of light.)
If Einstein was alive, he would have been really happy to know that his efforts in finding God’s thoughts and getting a glimpse into the workings of this awe-inspiring universe were finally bearing fruit. 🙂