Einstein’s Gravitational waves discovered!
Posted on February 12th, 2016

Bodhi Dhanapala Quebec, Canada. [The author is a popular science writer and a science teacher in a Technical College in Quebec.] ( Courtesy Island)

February 12, 2016, 6:51 pm

Most of us have no idea of Einstein’s theory of relativity. Sri Lankans have heard the claim of Nalin de Silva, an ex-Dean of Science at Kelaniya, that Einstein’s theory is just an unmitigated lie (“Patta-Pal-Boruvak”) — a “just so story” dependent on the Judeo-Christian cultural mindset.  Truth be told, science had to battle that very Judeo-Christian hegemony at every step, with celebrated scientists burnt at the stake or put under house arrest.

Scientists in Washington announced the observation of waves of the gravitational field, the analogue of electromagnetic waves (radio waves) that are produced when you move a magnet to and fro. Similarly, when massive objects move at high speed, they produce gravitational waves whose strength depends on how massive, and how rapid is the movement. In this case, two giant black holes moving at half the speed of light produced waves strong enough to be detected.  Such waves must exist if Einstein’s theory of gravity is correct, but their detection had required a half century of effort because the waves are very weak. This discovery now confirms a major aspect of Einstein’s theory. It opens a new field of astronomy that uses gravitational waves instead of light or radio waves. Such waves can tell us about the beginnings of our own universe, and other possible events in our multiverse which has many other big bangs inaccessible to ordinary telescopes.

The essence of the theory of relativity is that the laws of physics hold true universally, irrespective of how you are moving. That is, your microwave, radio or wristwatch will work perfectly, at home, on a ship, in an airplane, on a rocket or on another planet in exactly the same way as at home. This seems a very innocent statement. It was the main content of Einstein’s celebrated paper of 1905.  This is called the principle of relativity.  It should cause no surprises, except that one law of physics requires that light to have a speed of nearly 300,000,000 meters per second. So this has to be the same for everyone, at whatever speed he or she is going. If I were on earth, and you were on a space ship going at 1/4 of the speed of light, normally you would see light going away from you at 3/4 of its speed. But no! Relativity says we both see light running away from us at the very same speed!

This can only happen if your clock runs slow relative to mine, although the clocks work perfectly. From your point of view, my clock runs fast compared to yours! Your meter stick shortens compared to mine, while my meter stick lengthens compared to yours. So, all these happen so that the speed of light is always 300,000,000 meters/s, for both of us, as measured by our individual meter sticks and clocks!

Distances and time intervals are quantities relative to your personal “frame of reference”, being different in another frame. There really are only “events”. There are no space-locations or “time” that everyone can agree on!  The sum total of all events is   “spacetime”, and the only thing everyone can agree on is the space-time separation between events. Space has three dimensions (length, width, and height, labelled x, y, z) and time has just one dimension (t). Hence spacetime has four dimensions (x, y, z, t) entangled together.  Your GPS needs four satellite signals to locate you since it uses Einstein’s equations!

In 1915 Einstein launched another big idea.   If you put some iron filings near a magnet, you see the “magnetic field” around it. In the same way, every object, be it the earth, or a coconut, or a person, has a “gravitational field around it”, just like the magnetic field around a magnet. Isaac Newton had the genius to realize that objects attracted each other, but could not explain how. Newton formulated astonishingly accurate equations describing the motion of planets in space, tides on earth, and all motions and mechanics used successfully by engineers today. Einstein added what was missing in Newton’s theory by clarifying the nature of the “gravitational field”.

Einstein suggested that the mass of an object is simply a curvature in spacetime. The more massive the object, the more curved the spacetime near it, making a “mound” in the spacetime. So, “gravitational attraction” is simply that of objects responding to the local curvature felt by them. Planets move along the “locally flat” path in the curved spacetime, just as water flows in the valley between the mounds of hills.

This does not mean that”Einstein has done away with gravity”. Such simplistic statements are found in the popular literature to “shock” the reader. Dr. Nalin de Silva criticizes Sri Lankan, as well as, Western academics for “thinking that there is a gravitational attraction, even a century after Einstein showed that gravity is a fiction” (e.g. see Vidusara 18-11-2015 and other such articles). Einstein himself warned against such simplistic errors by saying (see Relativity, The special and General Theory, by Albert Einstein, 1959, p 176): “Now we might easily suppose that the existence of a gravitational field is only an apparent one. … This is by no means true … It is… impossible to choose a body of reference such that … the gravitational field of the earth (in its entirety) vanishes”.

Dr. Silva went to Sussex University to study theoretical physics. He likes to claim (Vidusara, 30-12-2015, and 13-1-2016) that he came back after 1.5 years with a degree certificate, thanks to his supervisor who bent rules to send him back!  Gravitation, Quantum Theory, and the mathematics behind them demand a lifetime to “understand” them. The team of scientists who successfully measured gravitational waves had worked on it for many decades. This is more than a great intellectual achievement where a physics theory, the prediction of a black-hole event, and being ready to observe it, all came together.  This heralds new precision tools for studying and adapting our environment to fit our needs. It is a great engineering achievement well beyond putting a man on the moon, demanding an accuracy and sensitivity similar to those for seeing a human hair some zillions of miles way.  The black holes collided 1.3 billion years ago, and it took that long for the light and gravity waves to come to earth!

Bodhi Dhanapala

Quebec, Canada.

[The author is a popular science writer and a science teacher in a Technical College in Quebec.]

6 Responses to “Einstein’s Gravitational waves discovered!”

  1. charithsls Says:

    What I’ve seen is some from our shores get fascinated by western culture & theories & so called scientific discoveries.
    These are not whims & fancies of the scientists but a gradual progression of human ability to deal with the mundane knowledge.
    I quite agree with what Prof Nalin De Silva says in essence in that Buddhism is un paralleled when comes to comparison.
    Scientific discoveries have flooded the human history from time unknown, each bringing us some excitement & hope of some eternity, but the life is same with the same vicissitudes & the Super mundane theory of Buddhism unchallenged. Physics & Medicine have evolved so much & life has been made somewhat more comfortable but the suffering has not abated a little. You can talk of moons & black holes but how true the Buddha said that there is no end to looking outwardly but within for the redemption.

  2. janaka wansapura Says:

    It seems like Bhodi Dhanapala’s life mission is to attack Dr. Nalin De Silva. He is not capable of doing it himself so he recruit dead scientists. Nalin de Silva obtained his PhD from Sussex University. He did his thesis on theoretical astrophysics (Relativistic Gravitational effects in astrophysics) in 1970. Years later experimental scientists confirmed his predictions. Bhodi dhanapala may not know this but Universities like Sussex do not give out PhDs to people whom they don’t think have achieved them. As a thesis adviser myself I know that if someone finishes it sooner than others it only shows his/her academic prowess.

    I don’t think Bhodi Dhanapala can comprehend Nalin de Silva, Einstein or even Buddha’s word (does Bhodi dhanapala think he exist?) on a philosophical level worth mentioning. If he think he does, then he should take Dr. Nalin de Silva’s offer and come to Sri Lanka to educate us all.

  3. NeelaMahaYoda Says:

    Janaka
    I was surprised to hear that you also work as a thesis adviser and yet supporting Nalin De Silva’s position on Einstein Theory.

    After careful consideration, what we could say is that we have two options;

    1.Nalin De Silva is a brilliants world’s best Scientist and all the other scientist in the world are absolutely rubbish

    2, The Scientists in the world are brilliants and Nalin de Silva is suffering from rubbish hallucinations.

    By the way, when Nalin Silva says Einstein’s theory is just an unmitigated lie (“Patta-Pal-Boruvak”) he is not talking about philosophical aspect of it.

    Gravitational waves were first predicted by Einstein’s theory of general relativity, which was published in 1916. That famous theory has stood up to all kinds of physical tests, but a very few criticism like Nalin’s made.

    “Until now, we have only seen warped space-time when it is very calm — as though we had only seen the surface of the ocean on a very calm day, when it’s quite glassy,” Kip Thorne of Caltech, another founding member of LIGO and an expert on warped space-time, said at yesterday’s ceremony. “We had never seen the ocean roiled in a storm, with crashing waves. All that changed on Sept. 14. The colliding black holes that produced these gravitational waves created a violent storm in the fabric of space and time.”

    Scientists already know that studying the sky in different wavelengths of light can reveal new data about the cosmos. For many centuries, astronomers could only work with optical light. But relatively recently, researchers built instruments allowing them to study the universe using X-rays, radio waves, ultraviolet waves and gamma-rays. Each time, scientists got a new view of the universe.

    In the same way, gravitational waves have the potential to show scientists totally new features of cosmic objects,

    This phenomena has now proves without any doubt what Buddha had been trying to explained 2600 years ago in the AGGANNA SUTTA where space time as a cyclical existence in which universe can come into being, survive for a while, get destroyed and then are remade without intervention of God.

    The inhabitants of the old universe, Buddha said will be reborn in a new system begin with spirits floating. When Planets appears and first drop of water vapour condensed into liquid water, spirits come to taste and enjoy water, gradually over the years as greed causes their ethereal bodies to become solid.

    Akasha Datu is further explained under 28 variants of Rupa in Abhidamma where universe is explained under AJATAAKASHA and Space is explained in RUPA PARICHCHEDAKASHA. Time domain is explained in the denial of permanence and further explained in Paticcasamupada.

    It is time for Nalin to shut up and stop confusing others

  4. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    Why do the waves weaken over distance and time? Is it due to the matter of spherical geometry or is there a loss mechanism in space-time like friction

    I believe It is impossible to compress or collapse huge mass that is literally solid into a point(zero). If our planet collapse as a neutron star it would become a 500 m diameter neutron star. If our planet collapse as a black hole it would become a a 5 cm diameter black hole material.

  5. RohanJay Says:

    I think the Buddha once said, great Scientific Advances, Technological Advances and Scientific Discoveries are meaningless for Human Beings unless whats discovered can lead to better understanding his Buddhist teachings and ending his sufferings. I read somewhere Buddha said something to that effect. As humans there fore we shouldn’t get carried away with dazzling technological or scientific discoveries about the universe.

  6. NeelaMahaYoda Says:

    RohanJay

    2600 year ago there were no great Scientific Advances, Technological Advances and Scientific Discoveries to talk about.

    It is true that when somebody ask about origin of the world Buddha simply said it is not so important to know it at that time, though Buddha knew it all but he did not want to explain it to one who will not be able to comprehend details of cosmology.

    But this is what Buddha could say it in simple term;

    “Now there comes a time, Vasettha, when after a long period of time this world expands. When the world expands beings for the most part fall from the realm of Radiance and come here; and they exist made of mind, feeding on joy, self-luminous, moving through the air, constantly beautiful; thus they remain for a long, long time. Now at that time, all had become one world of water dark, and of darkness that maketh blind. No moon nor sun appeared no stars were seen, nor constellations, neither was night manifest nor day, neither months nor half-months, neither years nor seasons, neither female nor male. Beings were reckoned just as beings only. And to those beings, Vasettha, sooner or later after a long time, earth with its savors was spread out in the waters. Even as a scum forms on the surface of boiled milky rice that is cooling, so did the earth appear. ~ Aganna Sutta”.

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