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Old 01-07-2003, 10:37 PM   #1
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Einstein Proven Correct Today

This is some cool stuff. Einstein, guessed that the speed of gravity was the same as the speed of light....and was correct!

Way cool stuff......Melon....could you translate this all for me?????

Einstein right again
Associated Press


Seattle — Einstein was right. The speed of gravity matches the speed of light, according to astronomers who took advantage of a rare planetary alignment to measure one of the fundamental forces of nature.

Edward Fomalout of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory and Sergei Kopeikin of the University of Missouri measured the amount that light from a distant star was deflected by the gravity of Jupiter as the planet passed in front of the star.


Albert Einstein, who formulated basic theories about space, time and relativity, had assumed that gravity moved with the speed of light, about 300,000 kilometres a second, "but until now, no one had measured it," said Mr. Kopeikin.

"Einstein was right, of course," said Mr. Fomalout.

The measurement is one of the last fundamental constants in physics to be established and Mr. Fomalout admitted, "gravity is not well understood."

The researchers used 10 radio telescopes scattered across the Earth from Hawaii to Germany to precisely measure how light from a distant quasar, a type of star, was bent as it passed by Jupiter on its way to the Earth. Jupiter is in the precise position for such a measurement only once a decade.

To make the measurement, the instruments had to detect a minute deflection of the light. Mr. Fomalout compared the required precision to being able to measure the size of a silver dollar sitting on the moon's surface, or measuring the width of a human hair from 400 kilometres away.

Craig Hogan, a University of Washington astronomer, said the achievement "is an important advance for physics," but he predicted that new techniques will be developed that will measure gravity's speed even more accurately.

"You can expect a series of experiments now," he said.

Mr. Fomalout and Mr. Kopeikin said their results are accurate within about 20 per cent.

Knowing the precise speed of gravity is important to physicists testing such modern ideas as the superstring, which holds that fundamental particles in the universe are made up of small vibrating loops or strings. It also affects some basic space-time theories.

http://www.upi.com/view.cfm?StoryID=...7-080949-3274r

http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99993232
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Old 01-07-2003, 11:13 PM   #2
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Here's a rough attempt.

According to Einstein's equations of general relativity, the gravitational field of a mass introduces curvature in spacetime (though it takes a massive object like the sun or a large planet to cause a measurable effect). Really, you could say that gravitational fields and curvature are really the same phenomenon.

This curvature in spacetime causes the path of light to bend and travel in a slight curve. (Although typically in physics you *define* straight lines to be the paths that light travels, and you say that curvature *changes* the notion of "straight line".)

Einstein's equations admit time-dependent solutions. That is, the curvature of a particular point in space is not necessarily constant. Theoretically, if you have a really massive object like the planet Jupiter, the curvature pattern that it emits should be traveling in a spherical wave that moves at the speed of light. It's very much like radio waves emanating from a transmitter.

With Jupiter sitting between the quasar that the astronomers were observing and the Earth, the light from the quasar could bend around Jupiter and reach Earth. So you could look a little bit to the left of Jupiter and see the quasar, then you could look a little bit to the right of Jupiter and see the same quasar, which the astronomers did. By measuring the appropriate angles and using some other data about the planet Jupiter, they were able to measure the speed of the gravitational waves that Jupiter emits.

Einstein was a brilliant man, but I feel that his brilliance is the kind that makes you say "why didn't everyone think of that," not the kind that makes you say "how on earth did he think of that." It's the kind of brilliance that makes a person want to become a scientist, not the kind that makes a person intimidated by scientists. Just my humble opinion.
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Old 01-07-2003, 11:55 PM   #3
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Good job Speedracer.
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Old 01-08-2003, 03:09 AM   #4
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wow very cool! I will have to read this in greater detail when it's not so late and I'm not so tired!

*edit to mention that I've always had the Albert Einstein quote below in my sig
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Old 01-11-2003, 07:31 AM   #5
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Einstein, cool. Remember Schrödinger too
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Old 01-11-2003, 02:39 PM   #6
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Thanks, speedracer. I once entertained the idea of being an astronomer. Then I realized I'd have to understand math beyond algebra.
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Old 01-13-2003, 09:17 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by martha
Thanks, speedracer. I once entertained the idea of being an astronomer. Then I realized I'd have to understand math beyond algebra.
It's never too late to learn.

Perhaps some of you might be interested in seeing some of the assignments for the precalculus class at Harvard I helped teach this fall.

http://www.courses.fas.harvard.edu/~...mework/hw.html

Especially interesting is the optional background reading for homework 1 at the bottom of the page.
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Old 01-14-2003, 08:16 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by speedracer


It's never too late to learn.


http://www.courses.fas.harvard.edu/~...mework/hw.html



No, seriously, if I were to attempt that, it would have to be the only thing I do. No working, no other classes, no relationships, maybe no other thinking. I work better with words.


But bless you for your encouragement.
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