I’m trying to wrap my head around the latest astronomical discovery. On September 14th of last year, the scientific world was gobsmacked when astronomers at the LIGO observatory detected the gravitational waves of two colliding black holes.
They converted these gravitational waves into audio waves, and it sounded something like a drop of water from a dripping faucet.
By the way, LIGO is not to be confused with LEGO. LIGO is the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory. LEGO is what you step on when trying to take a leak in the middle of the night. LIGO is the only such observatory of its kind. Except that it’s actually two observatories that work in conjunction with each other; one in Washington state and the other in Louisiana. It’s been operating since 2002, while detecting absolutely nothing worth anything. But that all changed last September, when it picked up the drop heard ’round the universe.
Somehow, this drip-dropping noise proved one of Albert Einstein’s theories related to relativity. This is the theory that my relatives are the ones who forget to tighten faucet handles. However, they say that the “sound” produced by this black-hole collision released three times more energy than all the galaxies in our universe combined. This to me is further proof of relativity, because some of my bumptious relatives can actually shout that loud.
The black holes collided 1.3 billion years ago, at a distance of 7,625,404,800,000,000,000,000 miles from Earth. They were both about 30 times the size of our sun, and were spinning around each other at several thousand revolutions per minute. That’s a pretty reckless speed for two objects of such Pantagruelian proportions, so naturally these lumbering titans had to collide sooner or later. Good thing we Earthlings kept a safe distance.
Now the question I have is, what happens when two black holes swallow each other? Shouldn’t it create some sort of anti-black hole, and force them to regurgitate up everything they’ve been consuming for billions of years? Back in my math school days, I learned between naps that a negative number multiplied by a negative number always equals a positive number.
So I have a positive attitude about this black-hole collision. I think they’re going to spit up all the stuff they’ve been stealing from the universe, and we’re going to recover lost property. Who knows what sort of wonderful marvels may emerge from the site of this cosmic accident? We should send a space exploratory mission to the site of the crash. Hey, what’s a few extra trillion dollars added to our national debt?
As you can tell, I’m no Albert Einstein. My thinking about this is about as far-off in outer space as the black-hole collision itself. But after 13 years of listening to nothing, then becoming elated when they heard the sound of a dripping faucet, I draw this conclusion about the astronomers who made this discovery:
Scientists are easily entertained.