back to article LIGO cranks up the sensitivity to sniff out gravitational waves

The US ultra-sensitive space science project, which first proved the existence of gravitational waves, is back after three years of upgrades and maintenance made it 30 percent more sensitive. Astroboffins behind the LIGO – or Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory – say the increased sensitivity means the …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    and allow scientists to get more detailed physical information from the data in the hope of offering a better test for Einstein's general theory of relativity.

    Let's be honest, at least some of them are hoping to find a loophole in it...

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Expecting to go into the lecture, find everyone sitting on the ceiling = there was a sign error

      1. Alien Doctor 1.1
        Thumb Down

        Well my dear...

        We really had to reverse the polarity

        1. Excused Boots Bronze badge

          Re: Well my dear...

          of the neutron flow..

          possibly?

          1. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

            Re: Well my dear...

            It's stuck! Hit the jettison button!

    2. Christoph

      at least some of them are hoping to find a loophole in it...

      They are desperate to find a loophole in it.

      We have two astoundingly successful theories, General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, but they give completely incompatible descriptions of how the Universe works.

      At least one of them must be flawed somehow, but physicists have been trying for nearly a century to find such a flaw.

      It hasn't happened. Neither of them have ever produced incorrect results in an experiment.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Imagine ...

        The LIGO detectors [function] by splitting laser beams over separate right-angled paths of 4km, to be reflected by mirrors, after which they are recombined and the interference patterns measured.

        Could the LIGO apparatus be retooled to look for gravity particles instead of gravity waves? Analogously to the wave-particle duality of smaller particles. Presumably the laser beams interference patterns themselves can - if measured appropriately - be shown to be particles. And then ... blah blah blah blah ... ipso facto the laser interference has been shown to be the perfect dual of dark matter particles zapping a laser's electric field to create photon particles, and the universe can be as one. References: [1. John Lennon, "Imagine", 1971]

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Imagine ...

          I'm not completely sold on force/matter duality as a real thing. It can be hand to make the math work, but what reality is at the extremes seems to be very elusive.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Imagine ...

            You are Henri Bergson…. You did say Cartesian duality didn’t you ?

        2. Dimmer Silver badge

          Re: Imagine ...

          If an array of dishes can be used as a radio telescope, could we run a test using the signal time verse the distance of of satellites in the starlink grid?

          Simple ping test?

      2. bazza Silver badge

        Worse still, some of the candidates for the unification seem to be taking a bit of a knock in recent times. The James Webb Space Telescope's vast, superb and surprising data is making it very difficult!

        I don't quite know how this is going to be resolved. Einstein was nearly unique, and managed to produce SR an GR more or less on brain power alone (though he was building on the work of Maxwell, Faraday, and everyone else. Quantum mechanics involved a lot of brain power too from only a few people such as Bohr. Nowadays, we have so, so much more data, and one could argue that it's simply underlining how little we actually understand.

        And it's been this way for a long time. I remember Richard Feynmann being asked by the BBC about why magnets attract. He basically pointed out that, despite everything we know about what they do (field lines, attraction / repulsion, the Curie effect, etc), we don't actually know why, and the only answer he could reasonably give to "why?" was "because they just do". That's a pretty deep thing, from a Nobel prize winner. RF was always pretty keen to point out that everything we have is just theories that fit observable events, rather than explanations as to why those events happen in the first place.

        And now I'm begining to think that we're not going to get very far with the "how" of some of the things we know are going on (thanks to things like JWST), unless we start understanding some of the "why", especially for gravity.

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          "RF was always pretty keen to point out that everything we have is just theories that fit observable events, rather than explanations as to why those events happen in the first place."

          When you say we are collecting more and more data, you reinforce Dr Feynman's statement. It's not a bad thing to have the data, but what we need is a solid explanation of the why.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
            Joke

            "but what we need is a solid explanation of the why."

            Just ask any busy parent who has an inquisitive young child. The answer isn't 42. It's "because" :-)

            1. bazza Silver badge

              Though it's good fun working the answers round to 42. Sooner or later, the child starts wondering why it keeps cropping up!

              Prizes for arriving at "42" in only 5 "whys?".

            2. jake Silver badge

              The answer isn't "42", nor is it 'because". The answer is ALWAYS either the actual answer, or "I haven't the foggiest ... let's find out!".

              Never lie to a child, and never waffle. All that does is teach them to lie and waffle. Unless you're trying to raise a politician, of course.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        if you want to depress yourself jump onto some of the Astronomy Instagram accounts and read some of the BTL comments. There are actually people out there who, I REALLY hope are trolls, that are trying to push the aether theory :( Please just shut down the internet

    3. MachDiamond Silver badge

      "Let's be honest, at least some of them are hoping to find a loophole in it..."

      Why do original work to get to that Nobel prize?

      If there is a major correction to Relativity at this point, a lot of what we think is true will have to be thrown out and the universe will be even stranger than we thought, cubed.

      1. jake Silver badge

        "and the universe will be even stranger than we thought, cubed."

        I'm with Arthur C. Clarke on this one, and default to paraphrasing J. B. S. Haldane: "The universe is not only stranger than we imagine, it's stranger than we can imagine."

        Note that this does not mean that I think we should stop bothering to learn about it, though.

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          it's stranger than we can imagine

          This is in a sense trivially true: just compare the number of possible discrete states of the human brain1 with the number of possible states of the universe. There will be many more states even of the visible universe2 than of even all human brains combined, so we can't imagine all of them.

          1At the level of resolution where change is significant, e.g. some synapse does or doesn't fire.

          2And based on WMAP and other experiments, apparently much, much more outside our Hubble volume, but of course that's forever inaccessible to us (assuming causality is preserved3) and so might as well not exist for our purposes.

          3And if it isn't, things will definitely be stranger than we can imagine.

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          ""The universe is not only stranger than we imagine, it's stranger than we can imagine.""

          I knew somebody would see where I was going. I couldn't remember the quote nor the person quoted. Good ol' J.B.S. ... and Arthur, of course.

    4. jake Silver badge

      "Let's be honest, at least some of them are hoping to find a loophole in it..."

      Any scientist should relish the thought of finding a major flaw in the general scientific consensus. Most major scientific breakthroughs in human history have begun with an observant person watching an event and saying "Now, THAT'S peculiar ...".

  2. Eclectic Man Silver badge
    Happy

    Ask a LIGO-ite

    One of the nice things about LIGO is there is a link on their web site allowing people to ask questions:

    https://www.ligo.caltech.edu/page/ask-ligo#:~:text=LIGO%20scientists%20determined%20that%20the,at%20the%20speed%20of%20light!

    you can email your ‘gotta know about LIGO!' Send us a question questions@ligo.org

    I did ask them about some comments on black holes I read on another site (NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day ) from a couple of frequent commentators there. (Turned out their comments were wrong about lots of things to do with black holes. )

  3. _Elvi_

    .. LIGO, is a reciever

    Larry Niven

    " The hole man"

    ;)

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