13 February 2016

Gravitational Waves: A Cupid Explanation

The  LIGO chirp confirmed the coalescing of two masses a billion years ago. The scientific world is abuzz about the presence of ripples in spacetime. Thus, establishing gravitational waves, a concept that Einstein indicated more than a 100 years ago.

An artist's impression of two stars orbiting each other and progressing (from left to right) to merger with resulting gravitational waves. [Image: NASA/CXC/GSFC/T.Strohmayer]. See more here at LIGO GW Inspiral
From a lay perspective, this coalescing and the wave that it emanate can be explained through the way cupid strikes. Two individuals get attracted to each other then they date and decide to be partners. This coming together of two individuals will have implications on others, that is, on their extended families and friends (see Lawrence's take in Sons and Lovers). This impact on others is equivalent to the spacetime ripples through gravitational waves.

Coming together of two individuals leading to the birth of a child will also also resemble spacetime ripples. Growth of the child reflects another kind of merger (not necessarily restricted to physical matter alone) that will also have its own ripple effects. This reminds me of a paper by Kaushik Basu and James Foster that discusses the advantages to an illiterate being in close proximity to a literate and how coming together of two such individuals through marriage can increase functional advantages out of literacy.

As the child grows, she or he will move out indicating the possibility of separation from her/his family. Other distractions can also lead to a split or separation in a household. If such separation, isolates or secludes the illiterate members from the literates in the undivided family then the new set-up will reduce the functional advantages that accrued to the former.

Thus, from a lay perspective, there are some queries to the scientific community in general and those working on gravitation waves in particular. Is it appropriate to visualise that a mass or star can bifurcate into two or more parts? If such splits happen then they should also lead to gravitational waves? Are these also evident in Einstein's 100+ year old paper.

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