Paper on Gravity Waves

3843 Words Sep 19th, 2015 16 Pages
Collective Paper
November 23, 1999

The Detection of Gravitational Waves,
How Close Are We?

Since the realization that the general theory of relativity predicts gravitational waves, there have been attempts to actually detect these waves. Indirect observations have been made that support their existence but no direct measurement. This paper gives a brief explanation of gravitational waves and discusses the current condition of the experimental search for gravitational waves. It deals with the newest techniques that will enable their detection. The focus of the paper is on three experimental groups: LIGO, VIRGO, and LISA. From our research of these
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Space time is a very difficult concept to visualize. It is made up of the three positionaxes, x, y and z, but also includes the dimension of time. It is the fourth axis of time that makes spacetime difficult to conceptualize. Spacetime is all around us. It maybe helpful to think of it as a medium that encompasses everything: earth, our galaxy, the universe, etc. All planets, suns, moons and celestial bodies are “submersed” in this medium called spacetime.


According to the general theory of relativity mass bends spacetime. Larger masses bend space-time more than smaller masses, just as a more massive object would bend a trampoline more than a less massive object. If the gridlines in Figure 1 represent spacetime it can be seen how the Earth bends it. Objects that approach the Earth will be affected by this curvature around it. Specifically, an object will be moved towards the Earth. This is how general relativity pictures gravity.
As mentioned gravitational waves are perturbations in the curvature of spacetime, and are created by accelerated masses. A similar occurrence can be observed with water. As a fish in a bowl moves around underwater it produces movements, or waves, in the water that spread throughout the bowl. In this same way accelerated masses produce waves in spacetime. These waves travel throughout the universe affecting spacetime and other masses within it. The magnitude, or strength, of the gravitational waves is

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