Last Friday the world woke up to the announcement that scientists had made an extraordinary discovery concerning gravity waves. It received a great deal of press and interest on places as diverse as The Daily Mail and others. Ever since that bombshell I’ve had ordinary Australians come up and ask for my opinion and I’ve been happy to give it.
As a result of the enthusiastic responses I’ve received, I’ve agreed to publicly share my knowledge on this amazing subject. So sit back and let me ask myself those questions that you’ve probably been hanging out to know the answer to, or possibly even didn’t know that you wanted to ask until now. A bit like those unknown unknowns from a while back.
Question 1: So Rex, what are these Gravitational waves we’ve been hearing so much about recently? What exactly is a Gravitational wave?
A: Well, thanks so much for the question. And a very good one to kick off with.
So you’ve heard about “waves” right? Like when you drop a pebble in a pond and the waves spread out in circles? Well imagine now a much bigger volume of water like say the ocean. And you’re standing looking out at it. Those waves that you see have come from a long-long way away. They have travelled from the other side of the ocean to you.
So you see it’s the same with gravity waves. Just like ocean waves are waves in the ocean. Gravity waves are waves in the gravity, and just like in the ocean they’ve also come from a very long way away.
Q: I’ve heard that these gravity waves are really hard to find. How did they do that?
A: It’s quite simple really. They have this device called a Gravitational Wave Detector, and what that does is that it detects gravitational waves.
Q: Apparently Gravity waves sound really amazing. It that true?
A: Well I wouldn’t call it amazing exactly. If you’d been listening to Fran’s show on RN on Friday morning you would have heard that they sound like a cello.
Q: A cello?
A: Yes. Although you’ve got to remember it’s the first one we’ve been able to hear so far, and y’know it’s a big universe out there so don’t be surprised if we find other orchestral instruments being played as well. It really is very early days, and the possibilities are quite mind boggling when you think about it. Perhaps we’ll discover a whole orchestra playing the theme tune to 2001 a Space Odyssey.
Q: So this is a really big discovery? Really important?
A: It depends on your perspective. Einstein referred to it as his theory of relativism, where everything depends on where you stand on the issue. There are people starving in Africa right now – so it’s not so important to them – ‘cause, well, they’re starving. There are people in nations who really know a whole lot about science and stuff, and its very important to them. And here in Australia where we know a bit about science, not as much as countries like America, but we know some stuff – well it’s important for probably the next week or two. I think we’ve got the balance about right.
Q: Is there any way I can make money out of these gravitational waves?
A: Well yes there is indeed my friend. It just so happens that I’ll be starting up a gravitational wave business quite soon. The Australian government has a bit of a revenue problem at the moment. It doesn’t know where to invest its revenue. Wind farms are on the nose. Car manufacturing is no longer an option. Normally I’d be recommending coal, but now even that’s looking dreadful. The government is dead keen on supporting new smart cutting edge industries, and you can’t get much more cutting edge than gravitational waves. So keep an eye out on Kickstarter for my new company (Rexagonal Waves) where you’ll be able to get in on the ground floor, and then just sit back and watch the Australian government pile in behind you.
Q: Gosh Rex. You are so good looking and know so much stuff. How do I get to be more like you?
A: Oh no please. Now you’re embarrassing me. I think we’ll wrap it up there. It’s been great to take you questions and I hope I’ve helped make this extraordinary subject that much more extraordinary for you. Thanks.