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Shocking! LIGO Can Also Create Gravitational Waves

It's now been a year now, since the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory(LIGO) declared the greatest scientific discovery of 2016. Though the first gravitational waves were in fact identified in September 2015, it was only after additional detections were made in June 2016 that LIGO scientists finally proved that the elusive waves exist, solidifying Albert Einstein's key prediction in his famous theory of relativity. Now, the most complex detector of spacetime ripples in the world turns out to be the best producer of gravitational waves.


"When we enhance LIGO for detection, we also optimize it for the discharge of gravitational waves," said physicist Belinda Pang from the Caltech in Pasadena according to a report in Science.

Pang was addressing a meeting of the American Physical Society last week, representing her team of physicists.

Gravitational waves are ripples that are produced when massive bodies warp spacetime.

They basically stretch out space, and according to Einstein, they can also be produced by certain swirling configurations of mass. Using uber-sensitive twin detectors in Hanford, Washington, and Livingston, Louisiana, LIGO can detect this stretching of space.

Once they realized they could detect gravitational waves, the physicists suggested that the sensitivity of their detectors would enable them to efficiently produce these ripples, too.

"The essential thing about a detector is that it couples to gravitational waves," said Fan Zhang, a physicist at Beijing Normal University.

"When you’ve got coupling, it's going to go both ways."

The LIGO team tested their idea using a quantum mathematical model and observed that they were right: their detectors did produce tiny, optimally effective spacetime ripples.

Quantum mechanics says that small bodies, such as sub-atomic particles, can be in two places at once and some physicists think that it's possible to coax macroscopic bodies into a similar state of quantum motion.

According to Pang, LIGO and these waves could be the things to really make it happen.

Though that delicate state could not be sustained for a very long time, any amount of time could give us further insight into quantum mechanics.

We could calculate how long it takes for decoherence to occur and observe what role gravity might play in the existence of quantum states between macroscopic bodies.

"It is a fascinating idea, but experimentally it's very challenging," explained Caltech physicist Yiqui Ma, one of Pang's colleagues.

"It's extremely difficult, but if you want to do it, what we're saying is that LIGO is the ideal place to do it."

Any further insight into quantum activity might not only just help us build better quantum computers, it could completely revolutionize our knowledge of the physical universe.

LIGO is already in the course of receiving upgrades that will enable it to detect fainter gravitational waves, and ultimately, the plan is to construct the Evolved Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (eLISA), a gravitational wave observatory in space.

Within the next decade, not only could LIGO be frequently detecting gravitational waves, it could also be finding ever more innovative ways to create them and advancing our knowledge of the quantum world in unbelievable ways.

This article was originally published by Futurism. Read the original article.



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