The world is understandably excited about the breakthrough d
iscovery of gravitational waves announced on Thursday. I couldn’t help but visualize this fan fare as Einstein looking down at us with a smirk on his face “I told you so”.
If you were to list most transformational strides in physics in human history, that would include everything from discovery of planetary system, gravitation, atomic nucleus, fission, neutron, quantum mechanics, and the theory of general relativity. In last few decades, however, physics went into a kind of depression. Since evolution of standard model, the world has not seen anything other than just proving some of the older theories experimentally. Even the discovery of Higgs Boson – a remarkable achievement, was actually proving a theory/prediction from 1960s.
Coming back to the subject of gravitational waves, ability to detect a perturbation in the weakest fundamental force of nature from astonishing distances is astounding, considering the magnitude of such wave would be less than thousands of the width of atomic nucleus. This could only be made possible today with amazing levels of sophistication available in material science, electronics, chemistry and mathematics. Yet, this discovery is an experiment that just proves a logical deduction of the theory of relativity postulated 100 years ago which has been proven time and again, with latest large scale experiment being Gravity Probe B.
Einstein’s sister Maja, once told the press that when Albert was a little boy, people around him worried that he would never speak. At school, Albert struggled in writing, failed in university entrance exam and joined a job of a clerk and made ground breaking work in physics that is still unparalleled today.
Let’s hope one of us knows an Albert around us, who one day will bring next fundamental revolution in real physics, possibly unify the relativity and quantum theories, and bring humanity closer to the “truth”.
… and Einstein, keep smirking, you look good in that 🙂