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Saturday Lecture Series, Einstein Wins Again

by coldwarrior ( 13 Comments › )
Filed under Academia, Open thread, saturday lecture series, Science at April 27th, 2013 - 8:00 am

Good Morning!  I thought this morning we would do some physics.

 

Einstein’s Theory of Relativity Victorious Once Again

In a match-up between quantum theory and the general theory of relativity, Einstein’s theory has once again come out victorious: this time in an orbiting pair of ultra-dense stars.

The star pair, about 7,000 light-years from Earth provides a unique opportunity to test the boundary between two theories of physics, according to SPACE.com.

Though Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity beautifully predicts how the gravity of massive objects curves space-time, it isn’t complete: it can’t explain the weird behavior of the ultra-small world, which is described by quantum mechanics.

For extremely small, yet extremely massive objects, such as black holes, the two theories clash and scientists have no physical description of exactly what goes on.

Enter the star pair. The couple, an extremely massive neutron star that spins around 25 times per second orbited by a tiny white dwarf, is both massive and tiny enough to reveal the behavior at the boundary between the two theories.

The white dwarf is an aging star that is cooling down over time. The neutron star is twice the mass of the sun, yet is just 12 miles (19 kilometers) wide, making gravity on the surface of the star 300 billion times as strong as Earth’s pull, SPACE.com reported.

Scientists observed the star system using the Very Large Telescope.

“A quick, on-the-spot analysis made me realize that the pulsar was quite a heavyweight. It is twice the mass of the sun, making it the most massive neutron star that we know of and also an excellent laboratory for fundamental physics,” John Antoniadis, a doctoral student at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy and lead author of a paper reporting the find, published in the April 26 issue of the journal Science, told SPACE.com.

To see whether Einstein’s theory held in the system, the team looked at the motions of the binary system. General relativity holds that massive objects warp space-time such that light will follow a curved path when under its pull. This particular binary star system should radiate ripples in space-time, known as gravitational waves. Alternate theories predict that the white dwarf would move slightly differently.

Sure enough, Einstein’s theory perfectly predicted the star pair’s motion.

“Our radio observations were so precise that we have already been able to measure a change in the orbital period of 8 millionths of a second per year — exactly what Einstein’s theory predicts,” Paulo Freire, another team member at the Max Planck Institute, told SPACE.com.

Though the new study can’t solve the conflict between quantum mechanics and general relativity, other experiments, such as the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory, will hunt for other gravitational waves to test Einstein once again.

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13 Responses to “Saturday Lecture Series, Einstein Wins Again”
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  1. 1 | April 27, 2013 9:42 am

    Two Sol masses and 12 miles in diameter… That’s approaching the density on Nancypelosium…


  2. 2 | April 27, 2013 9:43 am

    Let’s see…7,000 light years…at 5ly per jump that’d make it 1,400 jumps. And at 3 jumps per hour, that’d make it a little over 23 hours. Call it a day.
    [Plunks down 10,000 Quatloos to The Osprey]


  3. 3 | April 27, 2013 9:43 am

    Er, “of”, not “on.”


  4. coldwarrior
    4 | April 27, 2013 9:44 am

    Mike C. wrote:

    Two Sol masses and 12 miles in diameter… That’s approaching the density on Nancypelosium…

    :lol:

    THE densest matter in the universe!


  5. 5 | April 27, 2013 9:44 am

    @ Mike C.:

    Actually, that approaches the density of chocolatemousseium. Even more dangerous than Nancypelosium! :)


  6. RIX
    6 | April 27, 2013 9:56 am

    coldwarrior wrote:

    Mike C. wrote:

    Two Sol masses and 12 miles in diameter… That’s approaching the density on Nancypelosium…

    THE densest matter in the universe!

    Nay, nay I say. I aver that the densest matter
    in the Universe is the gray matter occupying
    the cranium of an obese blogger in Culver City.


  7. RIX
    7 | April 27, 2013 10:24 am

    AP: Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Tuesday that her agency knew of alleged Boston AP: Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Tuesday that her agency knew of alleged Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s trip to Russia last year even though his name was misspelled on a travel document
    Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s trip to Russia last year even though his name was misspelled on a travel document

    Their story gets mixed up because they can’t
    remember their last lie.


  8. RIX
    8 | April 27, 2013 10:43 am

    During a April 24th speech to the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Attorney General Eric Holder said that creating a “pathway to earned citizenship” was a “civil right.”

    “Creating a pathway to earned citizenship for the 11 million unauthorized immigrants in this country is essential. The way we treat our friends and neighbors who are undocumented – by creating a mechanism for them to earn citizenship and move out of the shadows – transcends the issue of immigration status. This is a matter of civil and human rights. It is about who we are as a nation. And it goes to the core of our treasured American principle of equal opportunity.”

    Damn straight!, Tell it Bro!
    And while we’re at it ,what about my civil
    and human rights?
    I want to be a power forward in the NBA, with a
    huge contract & groupie chicks coast to coast.
    This is crass discrimination because I’m a White
    guy with a one inch vertical leap.
    Mr Holder help me! I am available immediately
    for the playoffs.


  9. heysoos
    9 | April 27, 2013 11:07 am

    keeping up to speed with the mishandling of the bomber case…these are some nasty cats to deal with…the feds that is..
    http://www.nationalreview.com/article/346785/obama%E2%80%99s-national-security-fraud


  10. Buffalobob
    10 | April 27, 2013 1:21 pm

    “ultra-dense stars”. Is this an article about Glover, Cher, Sean Penn, Alex Baldwin, et al.


  11. Da_Beerfreak
    11 | April 27, 2013 2:28 pm

    After all is said and done, it’s still relative.


  12. yenta-fada
    12 | April 27, 2013 4:05 pm

    Where’s the “Quantum Mechanics for Dummies” articles. I have a lot of trouble comprehending what they are talking about. The other stuff, if you have a basic knowledge of physics, is fairly straightforward. The quantum theory….????? Does not compute.


  13. Da_Beerfreak
    13 | April 27, 2013 4:58 pm

    yenta-fada wrote:

    Where’s the “Quantum Mechanics for Dummies” articles. I have a lot of trouble comprehending what they are talking about. The other stuff, if you have a basic knowledge of physics, is fairly straightforward. The quantum theory….????? Does not compute.

    Here’s a good start if you can make it through the first paragraph.
    Introduction to quantum mechanics
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


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