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.