New hunt for gravity waves

UK scientists have begun a search for the final piece in Einstein’s jigsaw explaining how the universe works.

They are looking for elusive ripples in the fabric of space and time caused by massive explosions deep in the universe.

Experts from universities at Glasgow and Cardiff are working with colleagues in Germany to trace the incredibly weak signals, called gravitational waves. They were predicted by Einstein and are seen as a final test of his General Theory of Relativity.

The scientists are using a giant detector called GEO600 in a field near Hanover, Germany. It works by shining laser beams down long tunnels in a bid to detect the tiny disturbances that gravitational waves would generate. The waves are believed to sweep out from colliding black holes or exploding stars like ripples in a pond.

The scientists, who are working alongside a similar hunt in the US, hope they will even be able to detect the ripples from the Big Bang that created the universe nearly 14 billion years ago. Photo: GEO600.

Paul Sutherland

Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.
Paul Sutherland

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Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.

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