Gravitational Waves

Almost exactly 100 years ago in 1916 Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves as part of the Theory of General Relativity. The basis of this was that these waves transported energy as gravitational radiation. Only in the 1960’s did this theory start to pick up any real scientific precedence in that it could actually be true, from this ,research began into proving their existence.

ligo teamwork einstein1_7LIGO

The Team is formed 

In 1992 The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) was founded and thus began the first serious efforts into the discovery of gravitational waves. Scientists involved in the project and the analysis of data where put together by the LIGO scientific collaboration, with over 900 scientists worldwide coming together in a team effort to work on this project.

 

Decades of team work pays off

On February the 11th 2016 LIGO announced that the first observation of a gravitational wave (named GW150914) had been discovered. BBC News stated it as “Reward for five decades of team work” as the combined effort of the entire team had finally paid off and they were able to prove what Einstein had predicted all those years ago.

As an entirety the group faced numerous amounts of challenges along the way that required key communication and knowledge sharing from all participants involved. The machines used are exquisitely sensitive instruments to record the tiniest changes in gravity, this meant that things such as minor seismic activity, amongst other things, could throw off or create inaccurate results.

LIGO announcemnet LIGO team happyLigo team

Successful Team delegation & communication 

A team at the University of Glasgow created sophisticated pendulums to hold the glass panels which picked up the waves, as to combat the interference of any seismic activity and even noise produced from the very atoms of the mirrors vibrating. Along with this researchers in Cardiff Created models as to predict the shapes of incoming signals, while a group of scientists in Birmingham focused on how to best interpret these signals and what cosmic events they can tell us about.

This shows the levels of team work that went on to aid in this remarkable scientific discovery, teams focused on individual areas and levels of the project to aid in the final result. Keeping constant communication through LIGO any slight update or change in any area had to be quickly updated across the board as the implications could impact the research of many other teams involved in the project. The discovery of Gravitational Waves is a perfect example of how well organised and dedicated team work in many different areas can be used to achieve a single goal.