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Initial Tests Fail To Find Gravitational Waves

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the check-my-belly dept.

Space 553

eldavojohn writes that though gravitational waves are "predicted to exist by Einstein's Theory of General Relativity, the initial tests run by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory Scientific Collaboration (LIGO) failed to find anything. It doesn't disprove their existence although it does rule out a subset of string theory. From the article, 'For example, some models predict the existence of cosmic strings, which are loops in space-time that may have formed in the early universe and gotten stretched to large scales along with the expansion of the universe. These objects are thought to produce bursts of gravitational waves as they oscillate. Since no large-amplitude gravitational waves were found, cosmic strings, if they exist at all, must be smaller than some models predict.' The scientists working in Washington and Louisiana (in tandem to rule out flukes) will now move on to Advanced LIGO which will analyze a volume of space 1,000 times larger. If they don't find any gravitational waves in that experiment, the results will be more than unsettling to many theorists."

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553 comments

what to do, what to do (1, Insightful)

genjix (959457) | more than 4 years ago | (#29144875)

1. find contradiction in model
2. modify model slightly for exceptions
3. ??????
4. PROFIT!!!

Re:what to do, what to do (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29144883)

That's how science works, yeah.

Re:what to do, what to do (-1, Troll)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#29145043)

Funny, because that is one of the criticisms that science has always had of ID... whenever new evidence comes up that doesn't fit the theory, the theory gets modified. Now you're telling me that science does it too?

Re:what to do, what to do (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29145071)

Actually, ID proponents tend to outright ignore new evidence, or any evidence, that doesn't fit their theory.

Re:what to do, what to do (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29145129)

No, science adjusts models to accommodates new data, whereas ID simply ignores all evidence from the start.

Re:what to do, what to do (4, Insightful)

Tenebrousedge (1226584) | more than 4 years ago | (#29145135)

Intelligent Design has theories? What, if anything, does it predict? How could it be falsified?

This is like that Babbage quote: I am not able rightly to comprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question.

Re:what to do, what to do (5, Insightful)

Shihar (153932) | more than 4 years ago | (#29145435)

Intelligent Design has theories? What, if anything, does it predict?

That is actually the wrong criticism of ID. ID can certainly predict things. If the 'designers' are a bunch of bored aliens that like to do anal probes, you could predict that the aliens will cause changes in animals DNA such that they tend towards having ass holes. If the FSM is the designer, than you will predict that creatures will be designed towards higher spaghetti creating lifeforms. If the designer is an all powerful omnipotent god that thinks beetles totally kick ass, you will predict that there will be a crap ton of beetles (which there in fact are).

And hey, all of the above might very well be true.

If someone wants to go out and try and prove it, more power to them. The issue is that ID is nothing more than an attempt by religious nuts to try and teach about baby Jesus in the schools. If there were people that were taking the 'study' of ID seriously, they would sit around designing experiments to catch whatever the mysterious force is that manipulates DNA to force evolution and create their spiffy designed universe. Further, when they pondered what the force was, they would have to constrain themselves to theories based upon real physics. This would handily rule out 'magic' and 'god juice'. If they want to show that the force is god juice, they then need to go ahead and reinvent physics to try and explain how the force of god juice works. At no point does 'magic', 'just cause', or 'humans can't understand because they are not Jesus' acceptable.

The issue with ID is that science doesn't accept 'magic' as an answer. If you say a designer is forcing evolution, you need to go and figure out the force being used, and it either needs to conform to current theories or you need to find new ones that explain all observable events. This is what makes the ID folks nothing more than religious whack jobs. When Darwin declare that natural selection was the answer, people went to work figuring out how natural selection works and didn't just decide it was a magical force that just happens. They tore it apart by from a macroscopic level that studied how animals compete and co-opt, they tore it apart on the biological level understanding how cells reproduces, and they keep on drilling down until they are looking at atoms and figuring out how quantum affects influence evolution. At no point was anyone ever satisfied with 'magic' as the answer.

Re:what to do, what to do (4, Funny)

jackbird (721605) | more than 4 years ago | (#29145497)

You just said what he said, but he used the language of science while you used the language of bonghits-in-a-dorm-at-a-good-college.

Re:what to do, what to do (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29145169)

The difference is:
When you come up with a new theory you check what predictions you can make about other experiments. (That's why they're trying to find gravitational waves in the first place). ID doesn't do that.

String theory on the other hand... now you'd have a valid point.

Re:what to do, what to do (0, Offtopic)

SleepingWaterBear (1152169) | more than 4 years ago | (#29145183)

The problem with ID proponents here is that they tend to modify the theory to fit the new evidence while not bothering to make sure what they're left with is a self consistent theory. Their goal is always to win the argument, and they don't care if the theory they come up with actually makes sense.

That's not the real problem with ID though. The real problem with ID is that, as a theory, it has about as much support as the idea that rain is caused by tiny invisible unicorns peeing. The "tiny unicorn" explanation for rain may be a theory, but if I have to explain to you why it's a bad theory our education system is in real trouble.

Re:what to do, what to do (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 4 years ago | (#29145261)

This thread is now about ID vs Evolution, science vs faith. Thanks a lot for that!!

Re:what to do, what to do (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29145359)

Funny, because that is one of the criticisms that science has always had of ID... whenever new evidence comes up that doesn't fit the theory, the theory gets modified. Now you're telling me that science does it too?

That is nonsense.
ID/Creationism does not "change" their theory, they reinterpret evidence to fit their "theory".
Unless you are talking about the god of the gaps argument, but that is a separated issue.

Re:what to do, what to do (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 4 years ago | (#29145069)

I guess the way you describe it, then #3 would be "get more research grants". But hey, if it's that easy please try making your own model and see if it passes the giggle test so someone will fund you. I think you'd have to work pretty hard just to find something that isn't obviously incorrect and could at least explain some of the many, many WTFs you get once you go past classic mechanics. I think it's impressive to make any kind of sense of it, really once they started introducing matter-wave duality I really lost the concept of what matter "is".

I think I see the problem. (5, Funny)

tygerstripes (832644) | more than 4 years ago | (#29144877)

Have they tried turning it off & back on again?

Re:I think I see the problem. (3, Funny)

ledow (319597) | more than 4 years ago | (#29144917)

Can't find the button that you have to hold for five seconds. Besides... would you want to press it? I can't guarantee that my laptop will turn on again next time, let alone the Universe.

Re:I think I see the problem. (4, Funny)

ionix5891 (1228718) | more than 4 years ago | (#29145019)

Have they tried reversing the polarity of the main deflector array?

Re:I think I see the problem. (3, Funny)

Xanlexian (122112) | more than 4 years ago | (#29145165)

Have they tried reversing the polarity of the main deflector array?

You're supposed to reverse the polarity of the neutron flow.

Re:I think I see the problem. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29145059)

Tried that already, now we can't find the [Any] key :(

Signed,
Rocket Scientist

Re:I think I see the problem. (1)

TheGreenNuke (1612943) | more than 4 years ago | (#29145111)

The latest service packs and patches might help as well. Never know what bugs that Intelligent Designer has found in the past few millennium and didn't mention to us.

Re:I think I see the problem. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29145375)

We don't have sufficient privileges, call the responsible admin at next sermon please.

Re:I think I see the problem. (3, Funny)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 4 years ago | (#29145179)

Have they tried turning it off & back on again?

And now you know why LIGO doesn't hire engineers away from Microsoft...

Re:I think I see the problem. (4, Funny)

Miseph (979059) | more than 4 years ago | (#29145421)

Yeah, they turned it off and back on, but they forgot to blow out the cartridge! It's like they just don't know how these things work, didn't they learn ANYTHING in college?

Linearization (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29144885)

As far as I remember from my course on general relativity, gravitational waves follow from a linearization of Einstein's field equations. Thus, if they failed to find them, it wouldn't falsify the theory as a whole but only the linear approach to the field equations.

Re:Linearization (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29145191)

Thus, if they failed to find them, it wouldn't falsify the theory as a whole but only the linear approach to the field equations.

*sigh*

All right, son... What part of the phrase "differential manifold" did you not understand?

Re:Linearization (5, Interesting)

geekgirlandrea (1148779) | more than 4 years ago | (#29145201)

No, there are exact gravitational radiation solutions [wikipedia.org], and you can also predict gravitational radiation from weak-field situations where the linearized approximation is very, very accurano te (the h^2 term would be less than 10^-15 for the sun's gravitational field at Earth's orbit, for example). The decay of orbits due to gravitational radiation has been observed indirectly in PSR B1913+16 [wikipedia.org], and matches the theoretical prediction. If no gravitational radiation is observed at the expected amplitudes for things like that, it will throw a lot more than just string theory into question, and would raise the obvious conservation of energy question about that pulsar.

Re:Linearization (4, Interesting)

SleepingWaterBear (1152169) | more than 4 years ago | (#29145211)

As far as I remember from my course on general relativity, gravitational waves follow from a linearization of Einstein's field equations. Thus, if they failed to find them, it wouldn't falsify the theory as a whole but only the linear approach to the field equations.

This isn't exactly right. The equations describing gravitational waves do result from a simplifying approximation of Eintstein's equations, but it's the sort of simplifying approximation that really has to be quite accurate in many circumstances. If they don't find gravitational waves of a certain magnitude then either Einstein was wrong or, more likely, the sorts of astronomical phenomena that could create the waves don't exist.

Re:Linearization (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#29145271)

and why do we think we can detect them this deep inside a Gravity well?

honestly, looking for something like that needs to be outside the gravity well of the sun.

Just a bit of brain farting in the morning... I haven't had my 2nd cup of coffee yet.

Re:Linearization (2, Interesting)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#29145493)

and why do we think we can detect them this deep inside a Gravity well?

Because there's no reason why we shouldn't. Gravity waves should follow the same paths as light waves, and we get plenty of light waves in out gravity well. Gravity would have to have a repulsive effect to gravity waves to avoid them reaching us. Which I'm pretty sure is not the case in current theory.

Everybody knows (4, Funny)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | more than 4 years ago | (#29144893)

Gravity sucks.

Re:Everybody knows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29144963)

"There is no gravity. The earth just sucks."

Get it right.

Success! (4, Insightful)

benwiggy (1262536) | more than 4 years ago | (#29144899)

An experiment is only a failure if you don't learn anything from it.

Re:Success! (5, Insightful)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#29145013)

An experiment is only a failure if you don't learn anything from it.

There are still degrees of success.

I tend to consider it a failure if all I learned is: "I should wear fireproof clothes for all my pyrotechnical flamabilities experiments.

Especially after the third time I learn the same lesson.

Re:Success! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29145127)

"Especially after the third time I learn the same lesson."

That's not so bad. At least you'll still have one good arm...

Re:Success! (5, Funny)

offrdbandit (1331649) | more than 4 years ago | (#29145139)

Any experiment that doesn't result in a large explosion is a failure.

Re:Success! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29145381)

My advice to you is to stay out of medical research. Or at least keep a safe distance if you expect a positive result.

Re:Success! (1)

sadler121 (735320) | more than 4 years ago | (#29145425)

So Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage are now doing experiments to verify general relativity and string theory?

Unsettling? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29144909)

I'd say, nothing would be more exciting for a physicist, than to find out that current set of theories are incomplete. The worst, that could happen for a physicist, would be that the observations could be explained with GR.

Re:Unsettling? (3, Insightful)

Schiphol (1168667) | more than 4 years ago | (#29144993)

> The worst, that could happen for a physicist, would be that the observations could be explained with GR.

This kind of (extremely common) remarks strike me as frivolous. It is one thing to say that physicists enjoy being disproved, because this shows the length of the road ahead; it is another thing to say that physicists would hate to attain knowledge in one particular area or other. Science is in the business of securing truths, not in the business of idly advancing ever-refutable theories.

Just because they failed to detect any (3, Interesting)

spike1 (675478) | more than 4 years ago | (#29144911)

Doesn't mean the gravitational waves aren't there.
Maybe they've just got the detection method wrong.

Re:Just because they failed to detect any (1, Redundant)

raymansean (1115689) | more than 4 years ago | (#29145003)

I was just thinking the same thing. I can not see it != it does not exist.

Re:Just because they failed to detect any (1)

codeButcher (223668) | more than 4 years ago | (#29145015)

I can not see it != it does not exist.

Good for your karma that this is a discussion about physics and not theology.

Re:Just because they failed to detect any (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29145199)

Do you mean karma [slashdot.org] or karma [wikipedia.org]

Re:Just because they failed to detect any (2, Interesting)

wrf3 (314267) | more than 4 years ago | (#29145365)

Either theology is a subset of physics (the atheistic view) or physics is a subset of theology (the theistic view). If the latter, there comes a point where the two might be hard to distinguish.
I'm reminded of the Jastrow quote, "For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountain of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries."

Re:Just because they failed to detect any (1)

codeButcher (223668) | more than 4 years ago | (#29145481)

Interesting view. While I admittedly tend towards what you term the theistic view (physics is a study of creation, which by (theistic) definition is certainly not a set of objects/phenomena containing also the Creator that created it) I do not have much hope that the theologians will be sitting at that pinnacle. They seem to have frighteningly little knowledge even of their exclusive field of study.

Re:Just because they failed to detect any (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29145429)

The main difference lies on the previous asumption:

- Religious: there exists a (or some) god/s that can't be seen in any way.
- Physicists: there exist some gravitational waves that produce these effects, and therefore should be observable by these means.

If you have the means and doesn't observe the waves, either you made an error when building them or the description of the wave's effects is wrong. Therefore, these "waves", as were described, doesn't exist. Period.

Re:Just because they failed to detect any (2, Insightful)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 4 years ago | (#29145293)

That's the wrong way to look at it, when you fail to detect something that SHOULD have been detected using what you used, that means that things just actually aren't quite as you expected them to be. Sure there still may be some be gravitational waves, but this proves that they're nothing like we thought/nowhere as strong, if they exist at all.

Open or Closed String Models? (2, Interesting)

Gazzonyx (982402) | more than 4 years ago | (#29144937)

Will these tests apply for open, closed, or both so far as strings are concerned? IIRC, open and closed string models are mutually exclusive and should each have a different 'signature' that could be tested for.

Re:Open or Closed String Models? (2, Informative)

horace (29145) | more than 4 years ago | (#29145209)

This comes down to how long it is. A cosmic string isn't the same thing as a string in string theory. A cosmic string is very long macro scale topological feature of the universe while a string theory string is a model for subatomic particles. However you can investigate cosmic strings in string theory leading to the theory of stringy cosmic strings of Vafa et al..

Re:Open or Closed String Models? (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#29145307)

And can you test for it if you are inside one of those strings?

What if our solar system is inside one of those loops?

Cart before the horse. (0)

Zaphod-AVA (471116) | more than 4 years ago | (#29144965)

Isn't it supposed to be observe, *then* theorize? I'm no physicist, but it seems to me that with most string theories, they are doing the opposite.

Re:Cart before the horse. (5, Insightful)

ledow (319597) | more than 4 years ago | (#29145041)

More like a cycle... observe, theorise, observe to check results, refine theory.

In this case, this is exactly what's happened - the observations looks like they may not fit the theory perfectly - hence, once that's been double-checked, go back and revise the theory and try to find out why.

If you don't test the theory, it's worthless. And if you posit a theory, only observation will definitively "prove" it. Science is about positing theories, observing results, and if they fit the theory - WONDERFUL... you just "predicted" part of the universe that nobody has before.

Re:Cart before the horse. (2, Insightful)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#29145049)

Unless horses get so expensive and building carts so cheap you'd rather prepare a thouosand different carts just to be absolutely sure of which kind of horse you're going to invest all your effort trying to find.

Re:Cart before the horse. (1)

AikonMGB (1013995) | more than 4 years ago | (#29145067)

Not exactly.. you make some observations about the world around you, use that to come up with a theory, and then you perform experiments and observations to test that theory. One of the core components of a theory is it's ability to make predictions about things that we haven't observed yet; observing them a posteriori, we can determine whether the theory is at least plausible. A theory that makes no predictions is, to many academics and scientists, the equivalent of mental masturbation.

If you deal only with past observations, then you could come up with any number of theories to explain something, all of which are wrong because they fail to properly predict events in other scenarios.

Aikon-

Re:Cart before the horse. (2, Insightful)

Shihar (153932) | more than 4 years ago | (#29145083)

Not really. String theory is based on observations like any theory. You can observe things, see that it lines up with your theory, and you can falsify string theory. The problem with string theory, and the reason why people complain about it, is that most of its observations are also true of the boring old theories we have right now or true of other variations of string theory. People get a little annoyed when you come up with a dozen contradictory string theories and according to all known observations they could all be true and no one can figure out a way to disprove any of them shorting of lighting off a big bang.

Re:Cart before the horse. (1)

raymansean (1115689) | more than 4 years ago | (#29145119)

A lot of people confuse a hypothesis for a theory. All it takes for a hypothesis to become a theory is for there to be "some evidence" to support the hypothesis, even if the evidence is just pure math.

Re:Cart before the horse. (2, Insightful)

FTWinston (1332785) | more than 4 years ago | (#29145141)

Thats half-way there. Observe, then theorise, then make a prediction, and test that. The problem is that we have General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, and both describe their own domains very well (the very large and very small, respectively) - but we have no way of combining the two into a single, unified theory.

String theory in its various permutations could be (partial) theoretical solutions to this, but coming up with testable predictions of such theories (such as large-amplitude gravitational waves) is horrendously tricky. Indeed, some theories are pretty much untestable by definition - many string theories have been considered to come into this category.

So we have our observation (GR and QM both work well, but are hard to unify), we have many predictions (string theories, etc), and now we have a test of many such theories in the form of this experiment.

"Observe then theorise" is all well and good, but when you can't you can test predictions of your theory, its not worth much.

Re:Cart before the horse. (1)

OMGcAPSLOCK (1507399) | more than 4 years ago | (#29145371)

"Thats half-way there. Observe, then theorise, then make a prediction, and test that. The problem is that we have General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, and both describe their own domains very well (the very large and very small, respectively) - but we have no way of combining the two into a single, unified theory." Paging Nassim Haramein. I went up to London last week to witness Haramein give a talk on a paper he has just submitted for peer review entitled "The Schwarzschild Proton" (Best Paper Award at the CASYS09 conference), where he outlines some very specific ways in which we can begin to unify the two apparently conflicting theories. He has a model for the mechanics of the Universe that dispenses with the need for String Theory, the Strong and Weak Forces, and Dark Matter, and can show how this model would fully support General Relativity all the way down to the Planck Scale. http://theresonanceproject.org/pdf/schwarzschild_proton_a4.pdf [theresonanceproject.org]

Feynman on String Theory (1)

bencollier (1156337) | more than 4 years ago | (#29145335)

Along similar lines, from Richard Feynman: "I don't like that they're not calculating anything. I don't like that they don't check their ideas. I don't like that for anything that disagrees with a n experiment, they cook up an explanation - a fix-up to say, "Well, it might be true." For example, the theory requires ten dimensions. Well, maybe there's a way of wrapping up six of the dimensions. Yes, that's all possible mathematically, but why not seven? When they write their equation, the equation should decide how many of these things get wrapped up, not the desire to agree with experiment. In other words, there's no reason whatsoever in superstring theory that it isn't eight out of the ten dimensions that get wrapped up and that the result is only two dimensions, which would be completely in disagreement with experience. So the fact that it might disagree with experience is very tenuous, it doesn't produce anything; it has to be excused most of the time. It doesn't look right."

Re:Feynman on String Theory (1)

bencollier (1156337) | more than 4 years ago | (#29145343)

Of course, the bit that seems to have been disproved here is the "Cosmic String", which Wikipedia tells me is unrelated to String Theory in any large way.

Re:Cart before the horse. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29145423)

Isn't it supposed to be observe, *then* theorize? I'm no physicist, but it seems to me that with most string theories, they are doing the opposite.

"God did it" is a perfectly good theory within this logic. Confirmation experiment is vital to science.

They exist. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29144975)

It should be noted that the existance of gravitational waves is pretty much certain - measurements of pulsars like the Hulse-Taylor binary match up perfectly with the predictions of GR.

What LIGO is about is trying to observe them directly, rather than just observing the effects of them.

Re:They exist. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29145389)

It should be further noted that it is possible to synthesize excited bromide in an argon matrix.

Re:They exist. (3, Insightful)

aicrules (819392) | more than 4 years ago | (#29145471)

Pretty much certain? Yes, a lot of observations have fit the theory of gravitational waves, but this one in particular went against it. The observation method may be flawed in some way, but it COULD mean that the other observed effects are actually attributable to something else. Whether flawed or not, this observation did not disprove or prove the existence and/or nature of gravitational waves. It only served to potentially better define them.

Intelligent falling! (4, Funny)

blirp (147278) | more than 4 years ago | (#29144985)

This is obviously because gravity does not exist, but the observed effect is a result of an higher intelligence pushing things down.

http://www.theonion.com/content/node/39512

Re:Intelligent falling! (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 4 years ago | (#29145101)

I always though the expansion of the universe is pushing us upwards at an increasing rate, to give the impression to us that we were always being pulled down. Of course simulations of that theory doesn't seem to account for orbital patterns.

cosmic string (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29145025)

For example, some models predict the existence of cosmic strings

so, sort of like a quantum filament?

No Wonder (0, Offtopic)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 4 years ago | (#29145037)

Little wonder they didn't find anything. LIGO is a great big but brand new Michelson-Morley design. It took those guys many years to get a result.

Of course LIGO is right and good and should be honored for a valiant try despite no results, and M-M are wrong despite results (rarely replicable but a few times) because they were mistaken from the get go. Gravity waves from oscillating N dimensional strings make sense but waves in the ether don't and neither does different light speeds like the speed of light in a vacuum, let's call it c, or the speed of light in water, 0.98c, except different frequencies have different values in water. Anyway, Einstein was right, the speed of light is the same regardless. Einstein was still right even though LIGO got no results.

The above is a tongue in cheek adaptation of the LIGO news to the spirit if not content of Collins & Pinch's "The Golem" (actually M-M is covered). Should be required reading for those who'd mount a high scientific horse as well as those who'd seek to dismount them.

They are interferometers with more than a few essential similarities. Both should see something or else nothing regardless of theory because nature doesn't care for theory.

A problem with both is the directions -- both perpendicular to local gravity. They're looking for crosswise wind ripple effects on a waterfall. Build one with a vertical leg. As for orbital designs, same problem. But the rotation of the Earth should drag some frame. Put up two in opposing orbits (E-W/W-E).

Re:No Wonder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29145281)

"oscillating N dimensional strings make sense"

no, a dog dragging his butt to scratch his arse makes sense.

until we can actually sense these gravity waves i'm holding out on this as newton's calculations are effectively kelpers planetary geometry with a G added.

IANAP

Re:No Wonder (1, Troll)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 4 years ago | (#29145321)

Wow, great insight, random Slashdotter! If only those physicists visited Slashdot more often they'd know what's wrong with their results and conclusions!

Re:No Wonder (1)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 4 years ago | (#29145383)

Strings make about as much sense as probabilities considered as physically real, or observer-dependent reality - ie, no sense. The equations might be elegant, but they don't explain anything. "Oh, it's strings!... wait, strings of what? And hold on, they're one-dimensional?!"

Desiring a specific result does not make that result any more real, or coherent. Physics is built on philosophy, not the other way around. Until you understand the underlying concepts, you haven't understood a thing. Of course, it is possible to not understand a thing, get the equations right, and make practical applications from those equations, but progress (in both theory and application) requires a fundamental understanding.

Of course... (1, Informative)

chill (34294) | more than 4 years ago | (#29145081)

Gravity is related directly to space, which in turn is directly related to time. Time, as we know, is an illusion. Lunchtime, doubly so. Therefore, gravity is an illusion. Q.E.D.

Re:Of course... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29145325)

Is your real name is Eoin Colfer?

it could be (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 4 years ago | (#29145107)

their equipment is not sensitive enough to detect the gravity waves, you're talking about billions of years ago when they started and billions of light years of distance traveled since the universe began with a big bang...

Sending the theoreticians back where they belong (0, Offtopic)

bradbury (33372) | more than 4 years ago | (#29145159)

This is good news. Now maybe the string theorists, such as Michio Kaku, will spend a little more time back at the drawing board and a little less time pretending to be Carl Sagan crossed with Alan Alda.

Also, knocking the wind out of the theories that tend to be playing with fabric of the universe (e.g. string theory) is good, as it is one step away from knocking the wind out of those other dark denizens of "magic physics", namely "dark matter" [1] and "dark energy"!

1. Especially when at least dark matter can be explained by the evolution of advanced technological civilizations based on *known* physics (through molecular nanotechnology and extreme engineering) and the construction of Jupiter and Matrioshka Brains. "Look Ma, no hand waving, just putting those I have to work doing something useful" [2].
2. For those of you who do not understand this statement, answer the question, "Why 17 years after "Nanosystems" was published do we still not have an complete atomic level design for a molecular nanoassembler?" [3]
3. For those who are uneducated in molecular design, "Nanosystems" sketches the broad outline of a mechanical nanoassembler arm which requires 4-8 million atoms. In 1992-3, Merkle and Drexler showed that the design of simple molecular machines of several thousand atoms was possible even using the primitive software available in those days. So the design of a simulatable molecular assembler doesn't require "magic physics" -- it simply requires the dedication of enough people to doing the design (or the automation thereof) that it gets done. For the last 3-5 years supercomputers have been been powerful enough to simulate such a complete design to "prove" it would work. Show a design, show it will work and the only remaining barrier is building one [4]. For those who doubt the ability to build molecular machines (and eventually nanorobots), I'd suggest that you go read a textbook or two on cellular biology or microbiology.
4. For those who are uneducated in nanotechnology "enabling" in general and are thinking "Why should I care?" -- well, such things as "real" Star-Trek type replicators, the ability to live for "free" (given a few sq. m of land), indefinite lifespan extension, elimination of most causes of premature death (viruses, bacteria, starvation, etc.), elimination of the "problem" of global warming, inexpensive colonization of the solar system, etc. all come to mind.

Re:Sending the theoreticians back where they belon (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29145295)

this guy is one of those UFO nuts, slashdot, why the fuck are you modding him up?

Re:Sending the theoreticians back where they belon (4, Insightful)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 4 years ago | (#29145309)


Now maybe the string theorists, such as Michio Kaku, will spend a little more time back at the drawing board and a little less time pretending to be Carl Sagan crossed with Alan Alda.

I doubt it. There is no such thing as "String theory". It should be more accurately called "String Theories". It's like a multi-headed hydra that lives forever. Falsify one part of it and 3 other theories pop up to replace it.

The only thing that can really kill String Theories is a experimentally verified competing theory that's unifies quantum mechanics and general relativity. Kill the body and the head will die.

Re:Sending the theoreticians back where they belon (1)

deoxyribonucleose (993319) | more than 4 years ago | (#29145331)

Impressively OT! So 90 % of the mass of the Milky Way (and every other galaxy we've measured the rotation of) consists of computronium in the form of Jupiter or Matrioshka brains? Interesting theory, but where's the infrared radiation? Or have they progressed to perform fully reversible computations? Now that would be sailing very close to magic!

For those who think nano-engineering is going to be easy, I suggest go reading a book or two on control theory and thermodynamics. Even if we manage to build something resilient enough to survive outside a pure laboratory environment (much less a computer simulation!), and smart enough to do useful work, energy supply and heat dissipation is still going to be huge problems. I personally think it's going to be solvable, but we ain't gonna be getting any magic pixie dust, just another technology with clear limitations and associated costs. Especially when applied to complex biological systems such as, y'know, the Earth and ourselves.

Re:Sending the theoreticians back where they belon (4, Funny)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 4 years ago | (#29145373)

I like to see string theory crumbling as much as the next man, but err.. that :

dark matter can be explained by the evolution of advanced technological civilizations based on *known* physics (through molecular nanotechnology and extreme engineering)

If given the choice between these two propositions, I think I'll stick with string theory and its 26+ space dimensions. But kudos to you for pioneering a new approach to astrophysics that consists in claiming "space aliens did it".

Re:Sending the theoreticians back where they belon (2, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#29145447)

Why 17 years after "Nanosystems" was published do we still not have an complete atomic level design for a molecular nanoassembler?

Patience, young grasshopper. Game of Life rules published in Martin Gardners column in October 1970, first turing machine in GoL that I'm aware of, April 2000. Wait at least another 13 years or so.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conway's_Game_of_Life#cite_note-0 [wikipedia.org]

http://www.rendell-attic.org/gol/tm.htm [rendell-attic.org]
 

Failure to find gravitatoinal waves = good (2, Insightful)

damburger (981828) | more than 4 years ago | (#29145161)

Whilst scientists, being human, sometimes form attachments to a particular theory, the failure to find predicted gravity waves can only possibly be good for physics. It is also an exciting time for physicists; failures of existing theories to explain observations provide the kind of mystery a scientist can make a name for himself or herself by solving.

Hold the presses. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29145349)

A (admittedly tiny) part of string theory was tested (one would swear string theory was designed so as to be untestable) and failed?

What
A
Shocker.

wonder how many careers this just ended (1)

Sir_Real (179104) | more than 4 years ago | (#29145413)

I'd be very curious to see how many career paths this experiment just derailed. How large is this subset of string theory that just got wiped out? Also, what does it mean if the bigger version of this test doesn't find gravitational waves? Does it poke a big fat hole in relativity?

Heh (1)

farooge (25395) | more than 4 years ago | (#29145467)

At what point will everyone realize how silly all these imaginary mathematical constructs are?

Gravity waves do not exist, strings do not exist, dark matter/energy does not exist, redshift does not = distance, black holes do not exist and the sun is EXTERNALLY powered.

Eddington was wrong.

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