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Gravitational Waves May Have Been Discovered: Social Media Buzzes with Possible New Findings

First Posted: Jan 12, 2016 09:23 AM EST
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The world of physics has been rocked by what may be a direct discovery of gravitational waves. Social media has been abuzz about the possible discovery, though there are no confirmations as of yet.

It all started with Lawrence Krauss, a cosmologist at Arizona State University who tweeted that he had received independent confirmation of a rumor that had been in circulation for months. And while Krauss has tweeted that he received confirmation, there is still and probably still will be ongoing controversy until someone steps forward to officially confirm it.

The gravitational waves themselves were supposedly detected by a longstanding experiment known as the Advanced Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), which uses detectors to look for ripples in the fabric of spacetime. Rumors say that a team is in the process of writing up a paper that describes a gravitational wave signal.

Gravitational waves are ripples in the curvature of spacetime that emanate from the most explosive and violent events in our universe, such as a black hole merger. They're thought to have originated during the Big Bang about 13.8 billion years ago; just like ripples spreading out through a pond after a stone's been thrown, theory states that these waves carry energy from huge events through the universe as gravitational radiation.

But why is this such a big deal? The theoretical basis for gravitational waves spawned from general relativity equations that were created by Albert Einstein. Gravitational waves can explain how mass in the universe influences the shape of space. And while there is indirect evidence of gravitational waves carrying away energy from orbiting bodies, there is no direct detection.

This new rumor, though, could mean that there will soon be confirmation of direct detection. This could be huge in the world of physics, and may tell researchers a bit more about major events in our universe.

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