Fifty-five years after Albert Einstein’s death, physicists will be testing something he scribed in his theory of general relativity report. Three spacecraft flying 4.8 million kilometres apart will fire lasers at each other, overseen by Nasa and the European Space Agency.
It sounds bonkers (and like a terrible waste of money), but once and for all we’ll discover if gravitational waves are actually possible. The laser beams won’t harm the spacecraft, which will be carrying floating cubes of gold platinum, instead they’ll be used to measure the changes. It’s said to be the largest scientific apparatus to ever be built – and sounds like one of the more expensive, too.
A Glasgow University professor by the name of Jim Hough told the Telegraph that gravitational waves “are produced when massive objects like black holes or collapsed stars accelerate through space, perhaps because they being pulled towards another object with greater gravitational pull like a massive black hole.”
It’s apparently the last part of Einstein’s theory of general relativity to be tested, but hasn’t been possible yet due to the tricky nature of detecting them. Why bother with all this time and expense? Apparently once we learn more about gravitational waves, we learn more about space and the universe around us – giving us insight into collapsed stars’ matter and black holes.
Unfortunately we’ve got a good number of years ahead of us before the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (or LISA as it’s known) is able to proceed, with 2020 being the year we unlock the last piece of Einstein’s puzzle. [LISA via The Telegraph]