Gravitational Waves, and Valentine’s Day Physics Poem 2016

By the time this post goes up, you’ll probably have seen Advanced LIGO’s announcement of the first direct detection of a gravitational wave. We got the news a bit early here at Perimeter, which is why we were able to host a panel discussion right after the announcement.

From what I’ve heard, this is the real deal. They’ve got a beautifully clear signal, and unlike BICEP, they kept this under wraps until they could get it looked at by non-LIGO physicists. While I think peer review gets harped on a little too much in these sorts of contexts, in this case their paper getting through peer review is a good sign that they’re really seeing something.

IMG_20160211_104600

Pictured: a very clear, very specific something

I’ll have more to say next week: explanations of gravitational waves and LIGO for my non-expert audience, and impressions from the press release and PI’s panel discussion for those who are interested. For now, though, I’ll wait until the dust (metaphorical this time) settles. If you’re hungry for immediate coverage, I’m sure that half the blogs on my blogroll have posts up, or will in the next few days.

In the meantime, since Valentine’s Day is in two days, I’ll continue this blog’s tradition and post one of my old physics poems.


 

When a sophisticated string theorist seeks an interaction

He does not go round and round in loops

As a young man would.

 

Instead he turns to topology.

 

Mature, the string theorist knows

That what happens on

(And between)

The (world) sheets,

Is universal.

 

That the process is the same

No matter which points

Which interactions

One chooses.

 

Only the shapes of things matter.

 

Only the topology.

 

For such a man there is no need.

To obsess

To devote

To choose

One point or another.

The interaction is the same.

 

The world, though

Is not an exercise in theory.

Is not a mere possibility.

And if a theorist would compute

An experiment

A probability

 

He must pick and choose

Obsess and devote

Label his interactions with zeroes and infinities

 

Because there is more to life

Than just the shapes of things

Than just topology.

 

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2 thoughts on “Gravitational Waves, and Valentine’s Day Physics Poem 2016

  1. Wyrd Smythe

    Nice poem! Very cool about the gravity waves! That first one was detected on my 60th birthday. As I adore ol’ Albert, it was a pretty nice birthday present! 🙂

    (FWIW, you can use HTML DIV elements to make lines of poems and stuff hang together with no blank lines. Of course, that means diving into the HTML editor tab… 😮 )

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  2. Tom Andersen

    For me the most amazing thing was the energy density in the region around the coalescence. My calculation showed 15 orders of magnitude more energy in the gravitational waves in that region than the Schwinger limit. Who says Gravity is the weak force now?

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

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