The Universe

LIGO Press Conference


February the 11th was an epic day. I walked down the Infinite and couldn’t stop grinning the largest grin to myself. This was the day LIGO released their discovery of gravitational waves. I saw Matt Evans, my Quantum Physics professor as suited up and I told him, “You’re a celebrity today!”. Evans  was amongst the people heading the LIGO lab at MIT.

Here are some of the notes I took from the LIGO Press Conference at MIT.  They’re rather rudimentary.

  • Gravitational waves are oscillating tides traveling at the speed of light on the surface of spacetime.
  • Different masses create different waveforms.
  • Observed blackholes, of 36 and 29 solar masses, which merged 1 billion years ago.
  • Observations can tell us metallicity in stars that a lot smaller.
  • Change in length of interferometer = Wave amplitude * Length of interferometer
  • The change in length measured is in the order of 10**-18 m, which is about the size of a proton. Interferometer measured 4000m and wave amplitude is in the order of 10**-21 m.
  • Advanced LIGO observes distances of 0.1 to 1Gpc.
  • BICEP observes waves from the Big Bang.
Categories: Amateur Astronomy, Physics, The Universe | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

A map which tells the age, origins, and ingredients of our universe – from The Planck Mission

Isn’t that one interesting map – never seen anything like that before – and those dots of blues and yellows reveal so much!
Basically, the mottling in the map represents small changes in the CMB background, which permeates the universe. The cool part is, these deviations are essentially the “seeds” of the stars, galaxies, and clusters we see today – the “seeds” of matter.
I guess the density differences amplified with time – but that’s just me making sense of it…
And the pattern: the age, shape and contents of the universe.
But if you still can’t decipher the map (like myself), check out the picture below. Took this snapshot from the newspaper I was just reading – and I think it’s a wonderful summary of the breakthroughs of the Planck Mission, and also of the timeline of our expanding universe.

Source: The STAR, TUESDAY 26 MARCH 2013, Malaysia

Source: The STAR, TUESDAY 26 MARCH 2013, Malaysia

Though I must add, the Planck Mission (by NASA/ESA) has also proved that temperature differences in the opposite hemispheres of the sky (it’s the first I’m hearing the universe has hemispheres – must read up a bit about this!) are not anomalies of measurement (as they were once thought of), but the real deal…and there’s something about a “cold spot” as well: it’s now proven to be bigger than predicted.
Cool stuff right.

Here’s some links if you’ll like to find out a bit more:

Planck Mission Brings Universe Into Sharp Focus

New View of Primordial Universe Confirms Sudden “Inflation” after Big Bang

The first link is NASA’s article, and has much more detail. The second is by Scientific American, easier to digest 😉

ps. The CMB (cosmic microwave background) is essentially light, the earliest light in our universe, produced when the first elements, Hydrogen and Helium were formed. This was 380 000 years after the formation of our universe. But as the universe expanded, the wavelength of these light waves lengthened, and now it is of the microwave radiation wavelength – wonder if it will ever become radio waves!

Categories: Misc, Physics, The Universe | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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