Gravity waves

Way out in space, 1.3 billion years ago, two black holes merged. On September 14 this year, the resulting gravitational waves were detected here on Earth by both of the twin detectors of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO), one in Louisiana, the other in Washington, USA. It reminded me of my low-tech dealings with gravity at school.

I measured gravity at school
With a stop watch, weight and string.
Four pi squared L over t squared – well,
It seemed a simple thing.

I was unlucky: no black holes,
Far out in space, collided
At just the right time long ago
To influence what I did.

I might have proved that gravity
Was waves, and moves like light.
And I’d be famous: I’d have shown
That Einstein got it right!

Now it’s too late. Two black holes merged
A billion* years ago,
And rippling spacetime got picked up
By the waiting arms of LIGO.

So well done, LIGO people.
Your findings are a hit,
And luck was on your side, not mine.
(I wish I’d had your kit!)

*Actually, about 1.3 billion. Poetic licence, sorry.

[Image: LIGO/Caltech]
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