Do Sounds From Space Reach Earth?

Scientists strain to hear the universe's cosmic song

Do Sounds From Space Reach Earth?
[Credit: NASA, flickr.com]
By | Posted December 21, 2009
Posted in: Audio, Ever Wondered?
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[podcast]http://www.scienceline.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/gravitywaves-scienceline.mp3[/podcast]

Shielded under a concrete berm in Livingston, La., the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, or LIGO, is tuned in and listening for the music of the cosmos — tunes playing within the range of human hearing.

“If there was a way to take the signal and hook it into speakers, we’d be able to hear it,” says Scott Hughes, a physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The trick is that the signal itself is really, really hard to detect — its effect, says Hughes, is a vibration smaller than the nucleus of a hydrogen atom. This is because the noise from distant galaxies isn’t coming to us through traditional sound waves, but through a different class of energy called gravitational waves.

Gravitational waves get made by big things in the universe, like supernovae and pairs of orbiting, colliding black holes. These events send out ripples of energy in all directions, like a pebble dropped into a lake. Instead of making waves in water, however, the energy emanating from these super-dense objects produces tiny undulations in space-time itself, vibrations in the fabric of the cosmos.

These vibrations, or gravitational waves, were predicted by Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity in 1916, but they have never been directly measured. Now, scientists hope to detect them with the help of experiments like LIGO, as though listening to a cosmic drumbeat, for the first time.

“What we want to do is turn on the soundtrack to the universe,” said theoretical physicist Janna Levin of Barnard College at Columbia University. “If we can listen to it, it’s like archaeology — we can mine it for details” about the history of the universe, she said.

Using some of Einstein’s equations, physicists have already prepared models of what gravitational waves will sound like coming from various sources, like spiraling pairs of black holes or neutron stars. Scott Hughes, whose work at MIT includes modeling gravitational waves, explains that the pitch, tone, and frequency of the waves depend on how objects interact with each other. In other words, listening to these cosmic songs could tell us a lot about how huge objects like black holes form, and provide important insight into the evolution of galaxies and our universe.

LIGO — one of five separate observatories on Earth designed to record gravitational waves — consists of two light beams, each five kilometers in length, set up in an L shape at right angles to each other. Passing gravitational waves will stretch one beam while compressing the other — an effect the highly sensitive instrument can translate into a distinct signal.

Although LIGO can only sense gravitational waves in our own cosmic neighborhood, its planned companion in space, LISA — the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna — would be much more sensitive, picking up waves traveling from the remotest regions of the universe. LISA is slated to launch in 2018.

The last major discovery in the detection of gravitational waves came in 1974, when Russell Hulse and Joseph Taylor, Jr., both of Princeton University, used a telescope to observe binary pulsars — a pair of rapidly rotating, ultra-massive neutron stars. The binary pulsars lost energy at exactly the rate predicted by general relativity — the rate they would lose energy if they were sending out gravitational waves. The work won Hulse and Taylor the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physics.

While scientists could learn a lot about the behavior of black holes and galactic evolution from listening to gravitational waves, Janna Levin, the Barnard physicist, says she’s hoping for even more. “Hopefully we’ll see something that’s not black holes,” she said, and added, “I’d like to see something that we haven’t been able to predict.”

Posted in: Audio, Ever Wondered?

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  1. Einstein was right about the shortcomings of Quantum Mechanics and so therefore String Theory is also the incorrect approach. As an alternative to Quantum Theory there is a new theory that describes and explains the mysteries of physical reality. While not disrespecting the value of Quantum Mechanics as a tool to explain the role of quanta in our universe. This theory states that there is also a classical explanation for the paradoxes such as EPR and the Wave-Particle Duality. The Theory is called the Theory of Super Relativity.
    This theory is a philosophical attempt to reconnect the physical universe to realism and deterministic concepts. It explains the mysterious.

    MikeT, December 21, 2009 at 12:33 pm
  2. Yes sounds from space reach Earth.

    Radhasoami Faith View of Modus Operandi of Creation of Universe
    There is cosmological evidence for God and the Universe existed before Big Bang please.
    Stephen Hawking writes in The Grand Design, “It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the Universe going.” Hawking said the Big Bang was merely the consequence of the law of gravity. In A Brief History of Time, Hawking had suggested that the idea of God or a divine being was not necessarily incompatible with a scientific understanding of the Universe.
    Although Hawking is very close to Truth yet he is not perfect in his views while discarding the role of divine being. I consider the role of eternal gravity uppermost but I strongly differ with Hawking on the role of divine being. I consider Divine Ordainment is the cause of Creation of Universe.
    Now I give Radhasoami Faith view of Creation Theory. In Sar Bachan (Poetry) composed by His Holiness Soamiji Maharaj the August Founder of Radhasoami Faith the details of creation and dissolution has been described very scientifically. It is written in Jeth Mahina (name of Hindi moth) in this Holy Book: Only He Himself (Supreme Father)and none else was there. There issued forth a great current of spirituality, love and grace (In scientific terminology we may call this current as gravitational wave). This is called His Mauj (Divine Ordainment). This was the first manifestation of Supreme Being. This Divine Ordainment brought into being three regions, viz., Agam, Alakh, and Satnam of eternal bliss. Then a current emerged with a powerful sound (this was the first Big Bang). It brought forth the creation of seven Surats or currents of various shades and colours (in scientific terminology we may call it electromagnetic waves). Here the true Jaman or coagulant was given (in scientific terminology this coagulant may be called as weak nuclear force and strong nuclear force). Surats, among themselves, brought the creation into being.
    These currents descended down further and brought the whole universe/multi verse into being i.e. black holes, galaxies etc. were born.
    I would like to add further that sound energy and gravitational force current are non polar entity and electromagnetic force is bi-polar. Hence spiritual polarization, if occurred, is occurred in the region of Sat Lok and region below to it only.

    Infinite expanse of gravitational force field is the region of dark energy.

    Anirudh Kumar Satsangi, February 11, 2011 at 10:13 am
  3. In Bible it is written that in the beginning was the Word; the Word was with God; and the Word was God.

    According to Radhasoami Faith “Shabd (Word) is the beginning and end of all. The three loks (worlds) and the fourth Lok, all have been created by Shabd.” (Sar Bachan Poetry)

    Anirudh Kumar Satsangi, February 11, 2011 at 10:41 am
  4. Modus Operandi of Radhasoami Faith View of Creation – Part II
    Here the true Jaman (coagulant) was given. The spirituality coagulated as it were, and Surats (spirit entities), among themselves, brought the creation into being. Thereafter, another Jaman (coagulant) was given. Regions from Agam Lok (Inaccessible Region) to Sat Lok (True Region) were created during the first creational process. That creation is true. That region is eternal. There is no trace of evil and suffering. This was the creation for many Yugas and ages. Then there appeared a dark coloured current
    That current appeared like a dark coloured stone set in a white one and was absorbed in the Darshan of True Being. Then there appeared two Kalas i.e. currents (viz. Niranjan and Jyoti) and they together evolved the creation of five Tattwas (elements) four Khans (species, categories of life) and three Gunas (qualities). The three Gunas (qualities) brought about the expansion and proliferation . They created Rishis and Munis (sages and holy men), gods and godly human beings and demons. Egotism then increased much. Niranjan separated himself from the rest, putting the burden of looking after the creation on them. Nobody could know of Niranjan. Even the Vedas referred to Him as Neti Neti (Not this, Not this). They did not get Darshan (Vision) of Niranjan. They made conjectures. Then how can anybody have knowledge of Sat Purush (True Being), Source of Niranjan and all that exists. (Source: Sar Bachan Poetry)

    Scientifically here Jyoti represent three Fundamental Forces of Quantum Mechanics i.e. electromagnetic force, weak nuclear force and strong nuclear force. NIRANJAN is the fourth Fundamental Force i.e. Gravitation Force.

    Anirudh Kumar Satsangia, March 19, 2011 at 9:53 am
  5. Arlcites like this make life so much simpler.

    Cyberbulling, October 10, 2015 at 7:56 am
  6. What has happened to LIGO Mission 2015?

    Anirudh Kumar Satsangi, November 18, 2015 at 11:08 pm
  7. Meditators who listen sounds during their meditational practices are also coming from outer space.

    Anirudh Kumar Satsangi, December 27, 2015 at 5:43 am
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