2 thoughts on “The universe is a strange place

  1. Though if you’ve been watching the gravitational wave discoveries, this is what you’d expect to see. Indeed, they’ve been accumulating data for 15 years (according to the story) specifically to measure this. The interesting aspect is that after accumulating 15 years of data, the results are still just barely above the statistical noise, all we know is that it’s there, and can’t make out any details. OTOH, this will fuel a new round of grants to do better observations.

  2. Getting a better fix on my attitudes here.

    “All the evidence is that the reality *is* the mathematics. Physicists routinely construct pretty equations based on very noisy data, but better data shows the equations are accurate to many more decimal places than the data that went into constructing the equations. It is as if the fundamental laws of physics are somehow constrained to be simple equations.

    “This leads to the physicists’ tendency to think of the equations as the Thoughts of God. As the shirt sold by the MIT Hillel says, “And God said ‘[Maxwell’s equations]’ and there was light.” The Genesis version is an approximation due to limitations of Classical Hebrew for expressing vector calculus….”

    As a freshman physics major in 1974, I took a course in general relativity. Even at that time, it was clear that the equations were correct, or let us say that the only equations that would match what data we had at the time *that were also simple* were Einstein’s general relativity. And those equations predicted gravitational waves.

    Hmm, there is https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tests_of_general_relativity. The first observation of gravitational waves, the orbital decay of binary pulsars seems to have been in 2003. (You gotta love a field where “classical” is used to describe things before 1960.)

    So I was pleased when LIGO detected gravitational waves, but entirely unsurprised. I would have bet money at 100-to-1 on it in 1974.

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