There are days when I think deep thoughts and then there are those days like today, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
One of the first sites I visit on the internet when I log on in the morning or afternoon depending on when I wake up which depends on when I fell asleep is Stardate.org. It is not about how to get a date with a celebrity but rather it is about stars, space, and physics. The last few days have been about gravity and gravitational waves.
I discovered a few days ago that gravity is one of the weakest forces, physically speaking. I thought this was odd as it seems to be a rather strong force seeing as how it holds us all on the planet. Without gravity, we would fly off into space, bouncing off the moon and burning up if we got too close to a star. And then there is the whole black hole thing. I’ve always heard that a black hole is a dying star that collapses in on itself and becomes so massive that not even light can escape the gravitational pull.
However, the last few days I’ve been reading about LIGO which is a gravitational wave observatory designed to detect gravitational waves and these gravitational waves are ripples in spacetime. I also learned that another way to create black holes is by a merger of two neutron stars which gives a whole new meaning, at least to me, of the song Neutron Dance.
However, this is all conjecture at this point. But apparently detecting gravitational waves would be quite useful. I can’t explain it nearly as well as physicist Alan Weinstein who is quoted in today’s Stardate update: “The first thing it would tell us is that black holes — astrophysical black holes really are the objects described theoretically from Einstein’s equations. Einstein’s equation tells us that what black holes are is not dense matter but more or less infinitely curved space. It’s a different kind of an object. We don’t have direct evidence that such objects actually exist.”
Another physicist, Rainer Weiss, was also quoted: “The thing that everybody’s going to ask is what happens when they crash into each other.” This is not what I was going to ask, but I’ll get to that, let’s finish his quote. “That’s going to be a test of what nuclear physics is like. How do you suppose these neutron stars bounce when they hit each other, do they splash, what’s the equation of the state of nuclear matter in these stars and so forth. Gravitational radiation will tell you that, more than anything else, because it can look right through the thing and it doesn’t get disturbed by anything. That’s the nice thing about gravitational waves. You can get a real nice view of what’s going on inside.”
I’m not a physicist and I don’t pretend to understand all of what I’ve read in the last few days. But today’s article did have me wondering about things. This is what was running through my mind as I read today’s Stardate update.
What color should I paint my toenails today? Is one of the requirements of becoming a physicist that your last name begin with the letter W? I wonder what I should have for lunch, my stomach’s starting to growl. If a black hole is infinitely curved space wouldn’t we be inside one? Isn’t infinity forever? I think pink would be a nice change for my toes since they’ve been sporting black for the last couple of weeks. Black toes, black holes – there might be a song in there somewhere. I should have paid more attention in science classes. I should have taken more science classes. But then I would have had to take more math. I’m more a English, philosophy, history, kind of person. How To Destroy Angels is an odd name for a band or a really cool name – I can’t decide, but I like this song. Is it still raining?
No, today was not a day for deep thoughts. And in case you were wondering, I chose a lovely shade of iridescent lavender for my toenails. I’m still deciding on lunch.