Episode 6: Gravitational Waves with Chad Fifer and Chris Lackey

In episode 6 We introduce and discuss the  music of the spheres,  gravitational waves. To help keep us on track, we’ve invited Chad Fifer and Chris Lackey from the H P Lovecraft Literary Podcast. Ponderous bodies out in the universe can cause ripples in spacetime, and we can detect these ripples using interferometers of monstrous length. With these astronomical ears, who can  tell what horrible gibbering we will hear as it bubbles towards  us across unknowable aeons away?!? Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!!!


Guest:  Chad Fifer and Chris Lackey

Physicists: Jocelyn Read, Dave Tsang

Intro Music: Ted Leo and the Pharmacists 

Exit Music: John Vanderslice 

Transcript: Ep_6_Gravitational_Waves

5 thoughts on “Episode 6: Gravitational Waves with Chad Fifer and Chris Lackey

  1. Pingback: DR. SHIELDS' CLASS :: AP Physics (1-2 O) AP Physics (7-8 O) Honors Physics (1-2 B) Honors Physics (3-4 B) Honors Physics (7-8 B) :: The Ancient Unknowable

  2. Really enjoyed. Two questions. Dr. J states that waves are created only when there is asymmetric movement. Is there such thing as objectively asymmetric movement? Also, I how does gravity determine the borders of a mass? Meaning, a large enough body can generate measurable waves. That body is of course comprised of components. So do galaxies generate waves? do two galaxies, in separate sections of the universe, generate waves? What about a galaxy and the earth. The movement of both should generate waves. I guess what I’m driving at is, are the waves generated by a large body or is it the sum of he waves generated by the quantum components of that body? Thanks!

  3. Wondering about using the interferometer to measure a gravitational wave. The ideas, as described in the podcast, was that the gravitational wave would change the dimensionality of one (or both) of the arms of the interferometer. This would result in the laser interference patter to change. But I’m wondering if it actually cause this effect? The speed of light is a constant. So if the “definition” of distance on the interferometer arm changes, wouldn’t the photons traveling through that arm have to “vary their velocities” in order to maintain light speed in their altered dimensionality? And if so, I would think this would result in no change in the resulting interference pattern.

    • er, no. the speed of light is constant. so if one arm is shorter, it takes less time for the light to travel down and back along it, and then we measure the difference in the phase of the light going down each arm.

      • I think I’m allowing myself to get confused, from a special relativity view, because I’m a bit unclear about what a gravity wave actually is. The podcast implies that the gravity wave will alter dimensions at the location of the wave. I’m thinking that this means the photon traveling through the wave and the photon observer will have to have slightly different time frames due to special relativity. And that these different time frames would effect the interference measurement.

        I now think that this will all cancel out from the observer frame (who isn’t experiencing the gravity wave.) But I’m actually unsure of the special relativity effects of the gravity wave.

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