Home SCIENCE How to turn millions of years into magical moments without looking at the clock stone ax

How to turn millions of years into magical moments without looking at the clock stone ax

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Imagine some Roman giants who have lived through the ages and are walking around London today. With a temporal imbalance of this caliber, scientific popularizer Markus Chown invites us to consider the gravitational waves that stopped on September 14, 2015, a date that will be marked for relic in the memory of the scientific community.

Because these gravitational waves were the result of the merger of two black holes, the remnants of the first stars to form after the Big Bang. In this way, the journey of 1,300 million years was tracked thanks to the detector network of the LIGO project, where laser interferometers are going to determine the wavelength and speed of the waves by measuring small changes in the path of light, which Chown tells us in his book magic moment (Blackie, 2021), A very instructive work where he analyzed ten discoveries that changed the history of science; A journey that takes us from European laboratories to a bunker built under a nuclear power plant, passing through an underground tunnel dug under the French-Swiss border. Einstein, Pauli, Dostoevsky, Arthur Clarke and Charles Dickens also appear alongside the scientists, who celebrate their discoveries by toasting them with Coca-Cola in cardboard cups.

It doesn’t end there, because, as if it were a science fiction series, in the last chapter Chown tells us about the discovery of gravitational waves in September 2015. Until then, the existence of gravitational waves was only a hypothesis. Einstein doubted them enough to eventually be sure that gravitational waves existed. The ripples in space-time create waves that propagate at the speed of light, Einstein was sure of that, but he was not so sure that they could be detected.

One of the two LIGO detectors, located in Livingston (Louisiana, USA), with four kilometer long arms.
One of the two LIGO detectors, located in Livingston (Louisiana, USA), with four kilometer long arms.LIGO / California Institute of Technology

For this reason, as Chown tells us, the detection of gravitational waves was “the most important advance in astronomy since Galileo pointed his telescope at the sky in 1609.” However, it was not a scientific publication that first broke the news, but a tweet from lawrence cross, former cosmologist at Arizona State University And he was not related to the LIGO project, even though he knew about the discovery. A few days after the signals were detected, on 25 September, Cross reveals the secret by Little Blue Bird’s social network. What came out to confirm the rumor was the article February 11, 2016 in Scientific Magazine physical review paper,

Science took a turn that day, just as our lives would take a turn if we learned that some Roman generals from the time of the Empire lived centuries later in present-day London. It would be equally surprising to learn that the gravitational waves that rocked Earth on September 14, 2015, were the remnants of two stars that collapsed millions of years ago, when the most complex organism on Earth was a bacterium.

Of course, something had to happen from then on for the two black holes to merge to the beat of a cosmic symphony and turn all that time into one magical moment.

stone ax This is a section where Monteiro Glaze, with a penchant for prose, uses his particular siege of scientific reality to show that science and art are complementary forms of knowledge.

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