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Closing in on Einstein’s window to the universe

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Posted August 1, 2013

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Nearly a century after the world’s greatest physicist, Albert Einstein, first predicted the existence of gravitational waves, a global network of gravitational wave observatories has moved a step closer to detecting the faint radiation that could lead to important new discoveries in our universe.

David Blair is a Winthrop Professor of Physics at The University of Western Australia and Director of the Australian International Gravitational Research Centre at Gingin – 87km north of Perth. He leads the WA component of a huge international team that has announced a demonstration of a new measurement technique called ‘quantum squeezing’ that allows gravitational wave detectors to increase their sensitivity.

“This is the first time the quantum measurement barrier has been broken in a full scale gravitational wave detector,” Professor Blair said. “This is like breaking the sound barrier: some people said it would be impossible. Breaking that barrier proved that supersonic flight was possible and today we know that it is not a barrier at all.

“This demonstration opens up new possibilities for more and more sensitive gravitational wave detectors.”

Gravity waves are ripples in space generated by extreme cosmic events such as colliding stars, black holes, and supernova explosions, which carry vast amounts of energy at the speed of light.

These events are thought to be happening about once a week within the range of new detectors. They should achieve first detection within a few years of beginning operation as their sensitivity is steadily improved.

Read more at: Phys.org

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