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EDITORIAL ANALYSIS A boost for science, a wider window to the universe

 

Source: The Hindu

  • Prelims: Gravitational waves, LIGO, RRCAT, general theory of relativity, electromagnetic spectrum etc
  • Mains GS Paper II and III: Science and technology-Development and their applications and effects in everyday life etc

 

ARTICLE HIGHLIGHTS

  • In 2015, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) observed the phenomenon of gravitational waves for the first time, expanding our understanding of the universe.

 

INSIGHTS ON THE ISSUE

Context

Gravitational waves:

  • They were first postulated (1916) in Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, which explains how gravity works.
  • These waves are produced by the movement of massive celestial bodies, such as black holes or neutron stars, and are the ripples in spacetime that propagate outward.
  • Black holes merge, supernovae explode, neutron stars collide.
    • Colossal events such as these create cosmic ripples in space-time called gravitational waves.
  • In 2015, Physicists observed the gravitational waves emanating from two merging black holes, 3(one point three)million light years from earth.
  • The Nobel prize-winning breakthrough was accomplished by LIGO.

 

LIGO:

ligo_a

  • A research initiative that the U.S. National Science Foundation first began investing in the late 1970s.
  • LIGO is the world’s largest gravitational wave observatory
  • It consists of two facilities in the United States, one in the Pacific Northwest at Hanford, Washington, and another near the Gulf of Mexico in Livingston, Louisiana.
  • LIGO uses lasers to detect ripples in space-time through a method called interferometry:
    • As gravitational waves pass by, they cause space itself to stretch and squeeze, which scientists can measure through changes in the beams of the LIGO lasers.
  • The data LIGO collects have far-reaching implications in many areas of physics.
  • LIGO has provided new clues about merging black holes, the existence of neutron stars and the origin of the universe.
  • It has opened an entirely new way of observing the universe and hearing the universe through gravitational waves.

 

LIGO India:

  • It is a $320 million investment just like LIGO in the U.S.
  • LIGO-India is a collaboration between the LIGO Laboratory — operated by Caltech and MIT and funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) — and India’s RRCAT, the Institute for Plasma Research (IPR), the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), and the Department of Atomic Energy Directorate of Construction, Services and Estate Management (DCSEM).
  • It will be a resource for students, researchers, and educators throughout local communities,
  • LIGO-India will create new opportunities in Maharashtra’s Hingoli district.
  • It can create jobs across the technical workforce
  • It can unleash new avenues for scientific talent and inspire the next generation of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) leaders.

 

Way Forward

  • By joining the global network,e., the two LIGO detectors in the U.S., Virgo in Italy, and the Kamioka Gravitational-wave Detector (KAGRA) in Japan
    • LIGO-India will push forward the boundaries of what science and technology can achieve and help unlock some of the universe’s greatest mysteries.
  • The construction of LIGO-India is a major milestone for gravitational wave science and for the universal progress of science that transcends borders.
  • Questions about cosmos: The observatory will help to answer some of the most fundamental questions about the cosmos.
  • The collaboration with like-minded partners will provide current and aspiring scientists with a wider window into the universe while inspiring the next generation.

 

QUESTION FOR PRACTICE

How is the S-400 air defense system technically superior to any other system presently available in the world ?(UPSC 2021) (200 WORDS, 10 MARKS)