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Old 22-02-2019, 09:56 AM
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madbadgalaxyman (Robert)
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Gravitational Wave astronomy - the next wave in astronomy?

I think that the following (quoted below) is an interesting post by Alex, asking whether or not Gravitational Wave astronomy is really the way forward in astronomy, and asking whether or not the amounts of money spent on LIGO could better be spent on other types of telescopes. To question whether or not the Gold-plated Ultra-Expensive hobbyhorse of a particular Large Group of scientists is worth what it costs in terms of the project's scientific returns, is sometimes to be accused of being anti-science (e.g. when US legislators failed to fund the Superconducting Supercollider (a giant particle accelerator), this accusation was regularly made about them) - but in my view it is actually doing science a service to compare the relative costs of various anticipated scientific projects and also to consider the relative discovery potentials of the various projects that could potentially be funded.

We should firstly bear in mind that LIGO has so far cost some 1.1 billion US dollars.
In comparison, we can note that this sort of money could instead buy:
- a ground-based optical/infrared telescope of 20-30 meters in aperture.
- a Space Telescope to investigate a particular wavelength domain ; e.g. The Herschel Space Observatory cost 1.1 billion Euros, and it has turned Star Formation studies from being a purely theoretical field into an active and very detailed Observational science!
- a number of small orbiting telescopes to investigate previously unexplored parts of the electromagnetic spectrum ; e.g. GALEX (a far-ultraviolet survey of the sky) cost 150 million dollars and it has discovered a great amount.

Incidentally, a similar discussion is ongoing in the field of particle physics;
you may be surprised to learn that there are actually Many (yes, many) well-respected and very-high-profile physicists (in other words, people having the requisite Specialist Knowledge to be able to make highly informed commentary) who feel that the multi-billion-dollar cost of the very biggest particle-colliders is not justifiable in terms of their actual scientific return; but obviously there are Truly Massive swarms of thousands of particle physicists who would love an Even Much Much More Expensive instrument than their current state-of-the art, the Large Hadron Collider;
just consider that up to that point at which the LHC discovered the Higgs Boson, a cool 13 (!!) billion dollars had been spent on the instrument and its operations !!
(( see: this intriguing article on “how much did it actually Cost(!) to discover the Higgs Boson?”…..

It is quite true, as Alex Says, that there are always bunches of physicists and astrophysicists claiming that their particular proposed multi-billion-dollar instrument will undeniably lead to major discoveries and revolutionize our scientific knowledge.

John Horgan, in Scientific American, makes a similar point:

Of course, the question of whether or not a particular example of one of these “Most Most XXXXy” mega-science-projects is “worth the money in terms of scientific return” or not….. is a difficult one to answer; very hard for science to answer and very hard for society to deal with, given that even those with expert-level knowledge of the most relevant specialties within science will disagree about what is the best way forward in advancing humankind’s knowledge of the physical world.

Another point I would like to make is;
it is all very well to blow all of the research budget on a very very small number of Truly Gigantic projects, but would it not be better if some of the money was instead spent on ensuring the optimal development of that Marvelous Machine that is undeniably our primary research tool……the human mind. Human society should firstly Find and then Properly Educate a greater number of the very very very smartest people in the world, as there are large numbers of highly intelligent people who could potentially be extremely valuable to science and to society; but they are unable to contribute at a high level because they don't get a really good education.

Originally Posted by xelasnave View Post
I am suspicious.
Those folk involved in the gravity wave "business" are sprouting that gravity waves is/are☺ the new way in astronomy which only means they want a bigger slice of the astronomy budget/pie and this attempt to involve folk I see as no more than seeking support so the road to more funding becomes an easier path.

Lets keep in mind exactly what we have with a gravity wave observation...a very short chirp interpreted by templetes that suggest this or that black hole merged with this or that black hole at so far extraordinary distances to reveal exactly what about the universe I dont know and doubt if anyone can suggest just how these observations take us anywhere.

Further why are gravity waves only described via GR and any attempt to offer a "quantum" approach are fiercely ignored.

Is it perhaps important to understand what is taking place at a particle level and seek an explanation as to why GR works and exactly what is being observed when a gravity wave rings the bell.

(here Alex is speaking of getting amateurs involved in looking for optical counterparts of gravitational waves....)
I think it is a tactic to get more people on side to support their notion that gravity waves are the future of astronomy...well I say lets spend the money on better scopes that product results that require only understandable processing to produce a result.
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Old 22-02-2019, 09:59 AM
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madbadgalaxyman (Robert)
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oops....link to Sci. Am. Article failed.

It is actually:

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Old 22-02-2019, 11:28 AM
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Gravity does not Suck

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Thanks Robert.
I really get the impression that General Relativity is a cash cow for a large number of people.

Consider how long the theory has been around and yet grants still are dished out each year every year to "refine" some aspect and then the scientific media has what I find a most annoying headline.."General Relativity proved right again".

I once asked a scientist if GR could entertain a particular proposition and his reply was in effect GR cant go further its all been done.

A couple of years ago I went through all the grants made for research in the various universities in the USA and it became rather clear that a lot of folk owe their pay check to GR...and then you get stuff like Ligo and Gravity Probe B which really do no more than provide another headline for the science media "GR proved right yet again".

Really what else can you say about Ligo and Gravity B Probe...

And as to Ligo I think few realise the use they make of "templates" to classify a signal...if you dont know please take the time to read up on it...ok I am a layman but to me it sounds like hog wash.

The emphasis on GR seems to prevent progress in determining how gravity works at a particle level.

Surely the most important thing we could research is how whatever particle works to produce gravity but I sence that the GR crew are happy not to have any competition to GR.

Mass tells space how to bend? Well how does this work..a nuts and bolts explanation is needed not magic.

Honestly GR is like taking measurements of a race car going around the track and compiling a large data set but having no idea about the motor or the gear box that causes it to run around the track.

And I dislike that GR has been enlisted to prove the big bang when DrA constructed his formula to fit a static universe ( which is closer to a steady state than a big bang).

How he rolled over to accomodate the cosmic egg...I have said it many times..his greatest blunder was his greatest insite...I cant do math but I bet tweaking the CC may well do away with DM and DE ☺

Because its dressed up as science folk tend to forget the big bang is after all just cosmology and although very sophisticated it attempts to do no more than the pagans envisaging a cosmic egg to explain creation...

Still I guess we need something to drive the cosmology but the more I think about it the idea of a big bang creation ( which indeed it only hints at) is for me unbelievable.

And the hunt for truth is always about looking for evidence to support the big bang which seems so very wrong to me...like that nonsence at the South Pole.

No doubt in the years to come some observation will be presented as evidence of inflation and all folk like me can do is offer arguement from incredulity. ..but I think if most folk understood what inflation asks us to accept they would not buy it either.

It surprises me how many folk do not know what inflation dictates.

Just stop and think about it..the universe grew from a basket ball size to a size greater than the observable universe in under one second...or as Neil DeGrasse tells it..in a zillionth of a zillionth of a zillionth of a second...what speed did this boundary expand...mmm I dont know but it must be many many times faster than light..well its instant for all practical purposes...so the universe grew from a basket ball to more than we can observe in an instant..no wonder the church supports the idea.

Maybe I am just a mug but that just sounds impossible.


Last edited by xelasnave; 22-02-2019 at 11:48 AM.
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