How to respond ...

18 Feb 2016

How to respond to the discovery of gravitational waves that are thought to originate in the merger of two black holes has been difficult. One could pass it over - out of my depth so to speak, or quote as they appear to have a view (if only on the forum). Its a big learning curve to go back and have another look at the black hole theory and General Relativity etc. Do black holes  exist - in reality rather than in the mind of cosmologists. Don't know. Simple as that.

At ... we have an interesting headline, 'Was Big Bang just a Black Hole?' The difference between the two is explained in a somewhat interesting way. For example, in the early universe (after Big Bang) everything was uniform. There were no differences in gravity (therefore no gravitational waves). It was incredibly dense we are told - without any semblance of gravity pulling things  apart. There was no opportunity for a black hole to form because any one spot in the very early universe is no less or more dense than any other part - and gravity was cancelled out.

This is an interesting interpretation as it means so called gravitational waves could never be able to take you back to Big Bang - as some people were hoping during the hype of last week. Meanwhile, over at ... the ripple in space time (LIGO) involved Pan-STARRS, the University of Hawaii's Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System, which has been busy mapping the sky. It was diverted to look for the source of the gravitational wave - but it came up zilch. Nothing. There were a couple of otherwise unknown supernova but colliding black holes - nothing.

The discovery poses some questions - see for example ... which is a useful question.

Over at ... we learn that Japan is launching a satellite to study black holes (gotta find them first) and at ... the headline is, 'How did the odd black hole detected by LIGO form - and can we spot them in the sky?' It seems this is the weak part of the gravitational wave hullaballoo as they first have to establish that there was a black hole (s) to begin with. It seems the signal was too big for a black hole hence the idea they came up with was there were two of them, and they merged. As black holes have a connection with collapsed stars - and the signal was also too big for a collapsing star (presumably a supernova event) there must have been two collapsing stars and therefore two black holes in order to account for the signal picked up by LIGO. However, these are projected to be Massive Collapsing Stars rather than run of the mill collapsing stars. Not only that the stars must also have had a different chemical composition to the stars in the Milky Way. It seems the LIGO team have a paper published on this subject - worth having a read.  The article was published in The Conversation - and opens up a new take on the discovery.

None of the above is meant to take away the importance of the discovery - but in the spirit of being sceptical of all things offered up on the altar of science it is worth pointing out there might be an alternative way of looking at this.