“Three objects are spinning so quickly that you only see a blur. The three objects are: a line that rotates to make a hyperboloid, a cube that rotates to make a combination of cones and hyperboloid, and three ellipses that rotate to make a cylinder. Pushing a button stops the spinning to reveal the object.”
In 1916, Albert Einstein revolutionized the physics world with his theory of general relativity. This theory was the first to predict the existence of gravitational waves - a fascinating concept. Gravitational waves are effectively ripples in the curvature of spacetime which travel outward from the source - sources could possibly include binary star systems composed of white dwarfs, neutron stars or black holes. Gravitational waves cannot exist in the Newtonian theory of gravitation, since in it physical interactions propagate at infinite speed.
Einstein’s theory of general relativity effectively states that gravity is a phenomenon due to the curvature of spacetime. Massive objects cause this curvature - with mass being roughly proportional to the strength of the curvature that object produces. As massive objects move around in spacetime, this curvature inevitably changes. In general, gravitational waves are produced by objects whose motion include acceleration and are not symmetric (examples of symmetrical motion would be an expanding balloon or spinning cylinder). When accelerated, these objects would cause disturbances in spacetime which would spread like ripples on the surface of a pond. This disturbance is known as gravitational radiation - which is thought to travel at the speed of light and never stop or slow down, yet weaken with distance.
Although gravitational radiation has not been directly detected, there is indirect evidence for its existence. The 1993 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded for measurements of the Hulse-Taylor binary system, which suggests that gravitational waves are much more than mere mathematical anomalies. gravitational wave detectors exist, yet they remain unsuccessful in detecting such phenomena.
UCSD Physicist Uses Math to Beat Traffic Ticket
A physicist at the Univeristy of California San Diego used his knowledge of measuring bodies in motion to show in court why he couldn’t be guilty of a ticket for failing to halt at a stop sign. The argument, a four-page paper delving into the differences between angular and linear motion, got the physicist out of a $400 ticket.
Eerie, glowing waves appear in Maldives
Don’t get creeped out if you’re surrounded by unearthly glowing spots during a midnight swim. Scientists say it’s a completely natural biological (albeit eerie) phenomenon. In recently released photos from the Maldives on the National Geographic’s website, the shoreline surf is dotted with tiny pinpricks of light, seeming to reflect the constellations above. This “bioluminescence” is simply blue light from phytoplankton, microscopic sea creatures that secrete illuminating chemicals as a survival mechanism. Tweeps are calling the marine spectacle “amazing” and “awesome” — though we’d like to know how many would actually dive in for a romp with the light-emitting organisms.
So here’s the deal. Three astronomers, Saul Perlmutter, Brian P. Schmidt, and Adam G. Riess won the Nobel Prize for physics this week. Why is this interesting? Becuase of what they discovered. With the help of a type 1a supernova (a type of exploding star) theydiscovered that the expansion of the universe is actually speeding up, due to an antigravitatonal force called “dark energy.” Although they don’t know exactly what dark energy is, they do know that it’s pushing galaxies apart. An article in the New York Times states that “If the universe continues accelerating, astronomers say, rather than coasting gently into the night, distant galaxies will eventually be moving apart so quickly that they cannot communicate with one another and all the energy will be sucked out of the universe.” Poor Einstein, they believe that there are a bunch of different universes with different properties (obviously we live in one that is habitable). Pretty cool, eh?