|Posted on February 26, 2016 at 5:40 PM|
Gravitational Wave have hit the headlines lately, especially in the science media, so I thought I should have a look at why everyone is so excited about them. However, first we have to answer the question; what are Gravitational Waves?
It has been generally accepted for a long time that space is not empty, when I say there is a vacuum out there that does not mean that it is empty. There is a ‘fabric’ to space; we know this because of observations of astronomy and the application of known physics. This universe and this galaxy is dynamic, it is always changing and in motion, and because of that stars move around on their various orbits, so very often one star passes another (from our point of view). When a star, whose precise position is known, passes behind a very large star, the light from that star is bent, so it looks at if its position has changed slightly. A well proven physical law states that light (photons) always travel in exactly straight lines through a vacuum. So if light is seen to be bent; it must be that the vacuum that is bending and not the light. Another way we can see this is through a thing called ‘Gravitational Lensing’, this occurs when two or more high mass (and so a strong gravity field) objects act together to bend space into a lens. This lens can allow us to look through it to see a magnified area of space behind the lens, and the light from the stars around is are distorted. So space has a fabric that van be bent.
If we think of this fabric as water it give us a good idea of how it acts, it is transparent, and it can suspend bodies within it. Like water, if we disturb it, we cause ripples, like throwing a pebble into a pond of lake, it causes ripples or small waves, which reduce in aptitude (height) and lengthen the frequency (the distance between the wave crests). This is exactly what has been found, the disturbance in the fabric of space that was big enough to cause ripples. Those waves that we have detected are very weak (low aptitude and long frequency) with an aptitude of less than a trillionth of an inch.
So, what does this mean for science and for Christians who believe in the authenticity of Genesis 1? The answer, sadly, is not a lot, it certainly changes nothing as far as believers in Genesis are concerned. The only thing it does affect is the validity of the several verses in the Old Testament that speak about God stretching out the heavens (universe) like a tent. "He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in. " says Isaiah 40:22, and repeats it no less than seven times; Isaiah 40:22; Isaiah 44:24; Isaiah 48:13; Job 9:8; Psalm 104:2; and Zechariah 12:1. If we think about this logically, for God to stretch something, there needs to be something there for Him to stretch, or expand. So here is conformation that there is indeed something to be stretched, else there would nothing to ripple. We can certainly see waves in water; we can feel waves of air when we are out on a blustery day. If there is no medium through which the wave can travel there will be no wave.
What that fabric actually is constitutes the biggest mystery of the universe, hence the frantic search for the Higgs Boson or God particle, which has cost billions of dollars. They say they have detected the Boson, but all they can say is that they have discovered another exotic particle, which will forever bare that name. What the substance is that we call the ‘fabric’ we still do not know. Of course the greatest problem to secular cosmology remains, how did the universe come into being if they take God out of the equation?
One difference that the discovery of Gravitational Waves will make is that it will open up another branch of astronomy. We originally had naked eye astronomy, then after Galileo and Newton we progressed into telescope astronomy. When we entered the radio age we developed the huge dishes and arrays that are needed for Radio Astronomy. Further into the last century came spectrometry and high and low wave-length astronomy that detected emissions in the infrared and ultra violet spectrum, together with the detection of x and gamma rays. All of these relies upon refection or emissions of some form of light or particle.
Gravitational Waves potentially gives us a new way to 'see' the heavens, by detecting the multitudes of gravity waves that must hit the Earth every minute of the day. It will be rather a Radar, but only where we do not need to send a signal pulse, it is possible that these G-Waves will give us a new picture of the dynamic nature of the universe. Much better and more sensitive receivers will need to be built to take this form of astronomy further, it will be like attempting to listen to someone whispering on the other side of the Atlantic, and then trying to decipher what they are saying. The technology will take time to develop, like any new technology. We have just detected one huge disruption, in fact one of the biggest, and we only just managed to detect it, smaller disruptions will be even more difficult to detect by factors of thousands. So don't wait up for that to come home.
I was laying awake last night and thinking about Gravitational Waves and if there was an application for them other than developing a new astronomy. I was analysing the properties of the wave and doing a little mental maths, then it hit me, here is the basics of warp drive, yes Star Trekers it has been thought to be theoretically possible for years, but here is the key. If you look at my graphic below, you will see a typical wave-form (the actual wave may not look like this but that does not matter, all wave have the same characteristics) you will see that the wave has two elements the expansion and the compression elements.
The higher the Aptitude the greater the compression, by this we mean that space is compressed, making the distance between two points shorter physically. If we can then use this to hop between those two points we could cover huge distances in a very short period of time, and as the wave seems to travel at speeds close to the speed of light, whilst we are within the wave we will also be propelled at speeds close to the speed of light. If we are travelling with the wave and travelling within the wave, it may mean that we are actually travelling at a speed in excess to the speed of light. The greater the Aptitude the greater distance we can travel in the same time period. Like a surfer surfing a wave.
The wave we have detected has dissipated greatly over the distance it has traveled, so would not be any use for warp travel, so we would need a means of creating a wave with a high Amptitude around any ship. NASA has already started to examine this possibility and has a concept design fothe ship.