Article: Gravitational waves: talk to a scientist behind the discovery

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shooks
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Scientific history was made in February when the LIGO team announced the discovery of gravitational waves.

Martin Hendry is part of the team that made this breakthrough and he'll be joining The Student Room on Tuesday 22 March to answer your questions.

Read Martin's message in this article and post your questions about the LIGO project, gravitational waves and all things physics below.
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sleepyspider
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What possibilities have been opened up since this discovery?
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Student403
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My first question is why did you let Caltech reject me? :cry2:


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seriously though this is great news! I can't wait for the 22nd!
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EnglishMuon
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Do you believe there is a significant difference (advantage/disadvantage) between studying maths rather than physics for an undergraduate degree if you would like to study these 'applied' fields later on? To me maths courses seem to fit my thinking style more but maybe physics is more directly applicable to a research job? Any thoughts would be appreciated!
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Student403
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Do you wish school students (GCSE/A Level) showed more interest in modern research and scientific discoveries? And do you think involvement would inspire a lot more young scientists?

If so, what would be your ideal plan to get students involved and interested? Perhaps an addition to our current specification asking us to write some kind of report based on contemporary research or affairs in the scientific world?

Thank you for your time
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Student403
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Zacken
aymanzayedmannan


You guys might like this
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Zacken
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(Original post by Student403)
Zacken
aymanzayedmannan


You guys might like this
Ooh, this is so cool!!! I'll think up some questions.
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Student403
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(Original post by Zacken)
Ooh, this is so cool!!! I'll think up some questions.
I know right?! :nutcase:
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EnglishMuon
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(Original post by Student403)
Do you wish school students (GCSE/A Level) showed more interest in modern research and scientific discoveries? And do you think involvement would inspire a lot more young scientists?

If so, what would be your ideal plan to get students involved and interested? Perhaps an addition to our current specification asking us to write some kind of report based on contemporary research or affairs in the scientific world?

Thank you for your time
I agree it would be nice, but I don't think the current expectations of gcse/alevel students would allow us to study these topics in enough detail to give them justice. To me the whole physics a level seems wishywashy and full of hand waving as it is (e.g I can use 50 different terms to talk about what magnetic field lines are which explain eachother but nothing that tells me what a magnetic field is actually caused by). But idk, what do you think?
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Student403
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(Original post by EnglishMuon)
I agree it would be nice, but I don't think the current expectations of gcse/alevel students would allow us to study these topics in enough detail to give them justice. To me the whole physics a level seems wishywashy and full of hand waving as it is (e.g I can use 50 different terms to talk about what magnetic field lines are which explain eachother but nothing that tells me what a magnetic field is actually caused by). But idk, what do you think?
To be honest I don't think our understanding allows us to give many topics the justice they deserve. Don't you hate how little maths is involved? So yeah I completely agree with that. An entire reform would be cool
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EnglishMuon
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(Original post by Student403)
To be honest I don't think our understanding allows us to give many topics the justice they deserve. Don't you hate how little maths is involved? So yeah I completely agree with that. An entire reform would be cool
I know the feeling! Yeah entire reform would be nice, maybe we could start up a TSR exam board. It'd be like OCR but consists of less rubbish
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Student403
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(Original post by EnglishMuon)
I know the feeling! Yeah entire reform would be nice, maybe we could start up a TSR exam board. It'd be like OCR but consists of less rubbish
:rofl: Written by TeeEm :moon:
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EnglishMuon
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(Original post by Student403)
:rofl: Written by TeeEm :moon:
haha wow, I didnt even know XD
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Student403
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I wish more people saw this

Krollo
XxKingSniprxX
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XxKingSniprxX
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(Original post by Student403)
I wish more people saw this

Krollo
XxKingSniprxX
I saw it on twitter way back in February or something.

Next step ---> Quantum cryptography? :puppyeyes:
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We can harness light energy, so is it possible to use gravitational waves as a source of energy?
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FrankES
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Any other way we could use gravitational waves in everyday life?

How often do you think gravitational waves could be detected?


Is there any way to relate those gravitational waves with the movement of the celestial bodies that created them?

Thanks, Mr. Hendry!
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Life_peer
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Greetings Prof. Hendry,

following the recent experimental confirmation of gravitational waves (congratulations!), I've been wondering if it's theoretically possible—given our current knowledge—to alter the curvature of the space-time and by extension gravity without the usual means based on Newton's law of universal gravitation (e.g. centrifugal force or a massive object), i.e. using some form of energy.

Note that the local effect that I have in mind would be as small as a single person or even smaller, so we could jump higher or explore planets much more massive than Earth, or effortlessly lift a bloody grand piano that needs to be moved through the window for a hefty price (I'm sure you can imagine the great potential of altering the space-time besides FTL travel).

Thank you and good luck with your future endeavours!
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Aria Enoshima
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What do you think is next to discover or look into (either you, or scientists in general)?
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Martin Hendry
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(Original post by sleepyspider)
What possibilities have been opened up since this discovery?
A good question! Partly I'm inclined to answer by saying "we don't know", since perhaps the most exciting prospect about opening up an entirely new way to look at the Universe is the strong possibility that we'll discover objects out there in the cosmos that we didn't even know existed before. However, even if we just restrict ourselves to phenomena that we already know about, but could use gravitational waves to study them more deeply, the possibilities are very exciting too.

Firstly there's black holes themselves. The first direct detection of gravitational waves that we reported in February was a triple first, because it was also the first direct evidence that black holes exist, and the first evidence that they can exist in binary pairs. We had lots of cricumstantial evidence for black holes before, and most scientists were convinced that they did exist, but now we can hope to study them in a lot more detail - exploring how and where they form, how massive they can be and whether or not their properties can be adequately described by Einstein's theory of general relativity. (The early signs, from this first event, are that they can be).

Secondly there are neutron stars, the compact remnants of massive stars that have undergone a supernova explosion. We expect to be able to detect gravitational waves from the mergers of pairs of neutron stars, which we believe can give rise to a known phenomenon called a gamma ray burst - which emits an incredibly burst of high energy electromagnetic radiation (i.e. gamma ray light) to accompany the merger. Observing these events in gravitational waves too should help us to better understand the gamma ray bursts, and may offer ways in which we can use the GRBs to estimate how fast the universe is expanding - something we can do using "traditional" astronomy methods but it will be very interesting to be able to do it using gravitational wave observations too.

Then there's the supernova explosions themselves. It's possible that gravitational waves are emitted during these explosions, and if we could detect those it would give us useful insights into how the explosions occur and what is the internal structure of neutron stars - a bit like seismologists can study the interior structure of the Earth from analysing the pattern of seismic waves in an earthquake.

These are just some of the ways in which our understanding of some of the most violent events in the cosmos could be improved by the observation of gravitational waves.
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