A very clear and timely explanation of one test of Einstein’s general theory of relativity – the search for gravitational waves. Cardiff University has a very active research group in this area.
There has recently been a flurry of media stories about experiments searching for gravitational radiation, usually with headlines about “testing Einstein’s theory”. In fact, these experiments are testing our ability to measure gravitational radiation, because there is already compelling proof that this prediction of the general theory of relativity (which is itself exactly 100 years old as I write) is correct. This extract from my book Einstein’s Masterwork (http://www.iconbooks.com/blog/title/einsteins-masterwork/) should make everything clear. But the experiments are still hugely important. If we can detect gravitational radiation directly, we will have a new way to study things like black holes, supernovas — and binary pulsars.
Massive objects, such as the Earth or a star, drag spacetime around with them as they rotate. If they move back and forth, they can also generate waves in the fabric of spacetime, known as gravitational waves, or gravitational radiation, like the ripples you can make…
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