LIGO’s Gravitational Wave Discovery Is Still In Question, But Why?
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LIGO’s Gravitational Wave Discovery Is Still In Question, But Why?


In 2015, scientists observed gravitational
waves. For the first time ever, we could actually
‘see’ the distortion of space-time as it reacted to huge events in space, like the
collision of black holes. This was one of the most exciting physics
discoveries of our age, and the team involved were even awarded the Nobel Prize in physics
last year….so why is this discovery now being called into question? Ok, this is some pretty earth-shaking, heck,
even space-shaking drama. Scientific tea, if you will. Some scientists are now questioning the methods
used at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, which we all commonly know as
LIGO, where gravitational waves were first observed. It’s kind of like a really polite, but really
nitpicky episode of the real housewives of astrophysics. Just so we’re all clear, detecting gravitational
waves is really freakin’ hard, which is one of the reasons why it was such a big deal. When black holes, for instance, collide with
each other, they can merge, and in that merging process, some of the energy of that collision
is released into the universe as gravitational radiation. This is essentially a ripple that distorts
the earth by about the width of an atomic nucleus. So you can see why it was impressive when
the LIGO Scientific Collaboration said they were able to detect this wave. But the minuteness of a gravitational wave
is not the only problem LIGO faces. Yes, the detector has to be unprecedentedly
sensitive to observe and measure a gravitational wave, but it also has to be able to pick out
that wave from the endless buzz of other background noise, like the natural vibration of the earth
itself. So, in order to make sure that what they’re
measuring is really a gravitational wave and not something else, LIGO has two independent
sites: one in Louisiana and one in Washington. Between these two detectors, almost a continent
away from each other, there shouldn’t be any overlap in their noise patterns, but the
wave–the signal they’re actually looking for, should show up in corresponding places
at both observatories. So we should be able to easily identify what
is noise–all that stuff that doesn’t match up between detectors. Then when you subtract that away you’re
left with only the signal–the gravitational wave. That’s the ideal, anyway. And this is where the friendly collegial discussion
starts. A team of physicists at the Niels Bohr Institute
in Copenhagen made their own analysis of the LIGO’s freely and publicly available data
and they take issue with some of the methods used. When the Danish team re-analyzed LIGO’s
data, they found that while the wave signal matched up between the two detectors, so did
some of the noise. Which it shouldn’t, because the noise is
supposed to be random and independent between observatories. Which introduces the problem that maybe, the
signals that LIGO picked out are…less clear than the world would like to believe? As you can imagine, there’s been a LOT of
back and forth on this. The LIGO team has responded to the Danish
team’s concerns by basically saying that the methods and computer programs they used
to extract the original data are extremely complicated and the Danish team wasn’t using
them correctly. Which then prompts responses from some people
(like me) who say, “Ok, but even if your science is right it should be at least be
repeatable for other teams in your field, LIGO, ya diva”. And the Danish responded by saying “thank
you for teaching us more about your computer program, we re-did our analysis and we still
think your results are funky” And here’s the thing. This kind of kerfuffle…has happened before. Einstein predicted gravitational waves’
existence in 1916, and if we’ve actually detected them, we’ve now observed his theory
of general relativity in the tangible, physical properties of our universe. Which helps us better understand gravity and
where it comes from and why it behaves how it does–pretty huge and important mysteries
we’re still facing in physics. Since Einstein’s original proposal, several
other noteworthy experiments have tried to detect gravitational waves, with two standouts
claiming that they had, to much excitement…only to then be debunked, very publicly. Rather embarrassing for all involved. So it’s right to be skeptical, especially
about something as huge and groundbreaking as this particular phenomenon. But. When all is said and done and when the dust
settles around this flurry of agitated physicists, even in the most extreme scenario, scientists
agree that we’ve still definitely detected gravitational waves. This is the real deal this time, guys. It’s not that LIGO didn’t detect the waves,
it’s simply that their analysis may need improvement. And if it remains unimproved, these methods
could be introducing room for error that no one wants to have to deal with. This is the scientific process in action. As you watch this video, LIGO is putting together
a detailed document revealing how they got their results, so what could have been a potential
rift has instead opened up some important dialogue in the scientific community and will
hopefully be productive and just help us do the science better. And as of this early December, LIGO detected four more black hole mergers while looking through their previous observational data. he researchers say that these dectections weren’t as “loud” and needed more careful analysis. With that in mind, maybe this new paper will help qualm any debates about their techniques. As dramatic as it sounded like
it was gonna be, I don’t think it’s gonna provide enough material for an ultra-exciting
Hollywood reimagining. At least not yet. I guess we’ll see what happens. What do you think about this science saga? Let the the world know with your very own
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here, and keep coming back to Seeker for more breaking science news. Thanks for watching!

100 Comments

  • aewriter

    3:26 why is gravity always visually described as a flat plain like a marble on a bed sheet? The grid looks like a badminton birdie. Shouldn't gravity be equally dipped or better yet, "blimped" from every axis all around like an expanded balloon? If something like Oumuamua came into our trajectory, it's outgoing trajectory world be roughly similar from any angle. But if you use your birdie graph, the outgoing trajectory would vary greatly as the birdie grid shows different lengths of gravity. Where as a balloon would be similar all the way around.

  • Pale O'Pterix

    Until they confirm this "discovery" with an experiment set up in space, this so called "discovery" is just BULLSHIT. And an expensive one.

  • csommer22

    When LIGO detected the gravitational waves from the neutron star merger it was also confirmed by a lot of telescopes that detected the light emitted from the merger, so gravitational waves are real. This video here is clearly over-sensationalizing some small dispute about error correction.

  • SnoopyDoo

    Except that you failed to mention that when the gravitational wave was detected, they informed the astronomy community where to point their telescopes. And sure enough, astronomers were able to see a blip of light at the location where none existed before. So even if the way they are detecting these waves is not entirely precise, they are able to verify the results visually.

  • KingJacobElijah hajilEbocaJgniK

    Even if they detect a force from the black holes, like a wave, doesn't mean it is a gravity wave. It could be a force of energy or particles rushing towards us

  • magnvss

    What do I think you ask? I think if you put enough effort and money on seeing something you will see something. Like the famous imaginary dragon in my garage. Indirectly, I mean. All the signs are there, you only need the words that point towards it, like in the Sherlock movies. (Ok, I will go but the all phrase that says that in science you have to wait until the paint is dry, and set and don’t rush to conclusions while is still wet). Time (and may be another types of experiments, if possible) will tell.

  • Patavinity

    It was questioned immediately when the research was released. Clearly you weren't paying attention.

    Also – fewer moronic reality TV references might be a good idea.

  • Abdega

    Since waves in later observations later allowed astronomers to observe neutron stars merge, shouldn’t that be more proof that the proof of concept is working?
    It just seems that it needs some more error correction and it might allow it to be more accurate

  • Dr Do-Little

    I think with the difficulty of detecting gravitational waves and the ground breaking tech required to do so. It's not surprising to see some healthy questioning about it.That is how science work and why peer review is important.

  • Ethan b05

    Yeah… But when they measured the merge of two neutron stars it was confirmed by LIGO, VIRGO and actual visual observation… So there isn't any doubt that we DID discover gravitational waves.

  • Anthony Smith

    So Ive heard physicists sometimes describe existence as this series of fields and everything that exists is simply a vibration in said fields and that particles are just what we see as the manifestation of the vibrations. So I thought perhaps there isn't a graviton because the vibration in the gravitational field doesn't manifest as a "visible" particle.

  • Daniel Dulu

    Keep trying, cannot justify this research really. I stand by the fact that you are analyzing very distant phenomena and there is much room for errors especially since you keep saying the effect is slight.

  • Science Revolution

    All scientists think the speed of gravity is light speed C. They are all wrong.

    Gravity is inherited force between masses, it is co-existed, indestructible, immortal, always there. Therefore gravity is instantaneous, it has infinite speed.

    Gravity is like invisible, mass less real connection between masses.

    If the sun has a quake, all planets will instantly sense the quake at the same time.

    Gravity has to be instantaneous, otherwise, no planet can have a stable orbit.

  • Jarid Williams

    one of the points of this is to say “ok were going to test every possible way this could have been a false positive” before jumping to conclusions

  • Neutron Star

    You see this shit conspiracy theorist? This is what happens when a certain group of scientist questions a groundbreaking discovery. They don't just go to youtube and upload and made up shit about the targetted topic, they write and publish a journal about it. This is what we call science, and this is why I trust science more than some bullshit youtube videos.

  • Jeremiah Mullikin

    The discovery of gravitational waves is also the birth of gravitodynamics. We'll be using them to communicate and for propulsion in the future.

  • Weldon Oliver

    I just love this stuff. Your presentation is great. Love your cheerful approach to unanswered questions in order to keep them going.

  • Ross Jennings

    I'm surprised to see this video now. This back-and-forth happened about 18 months ago, and as far as I can tell, the criticisms turned out not to have much weight. A reasonably detailed rebuttal by a postdoc in the field can be found at http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2017/06/18/a-response-to-on-the-time-lags-of-the-ligo-signals-guest-post/.

  • Crimson Khan

    Small peek on higher dimensions deserves Nobel prize…but if the idea is 100 years old and there is a correlation in randomness? maybe this is where we discovered the calculable chaos. But the tool (math) we use is not that strong enough. We should reinvent math like Newton did once. Thanks Seeker!

  • BigNewGames

    Black holes cannot collide. In 2004 I discovered a missing variable in Einstein's field equation. He never addressed the action causing gravity. Sure, his equation perfectly describes the motion of small mass, like something falling to the Earth but it does not accurately describe anything about a black hole.

    When LIGO detected it's first GW they automatically assumed it was caused by a pair of black holes colliding. I said they were in error. I said that a pair of black holes are not able to collide. I said the GW event was not a collision of anything but instead was an electromagnetic event. I said to prove it they simply needed to look at the gamma ray burst data, that they would discover a GRB that occurred at the same moment and location where the GW was detected. Sure enough, astrophysicists went over the data of GRBs and discovered I was right. A gamma ray burst occurred at the same location and time the GW was detected by LIGO. Like I said, it was not a collision of anything but was an electromagnetic event, with universal proportions.

    I had proposed several years ago that this type of electromagnetic event would be discovered, based on James Maxwell's field equations and the quantum entanglement that occurs to the potential information contained within every EM field. The event they detected had nothing to do with gravity or the collision of anything, a pair of black holes or a pair of neutron stars. Two stars spewing million mile per hour solar winds would not be able to get close enough to one another to collide. Their winds would push them away from one another. The same thing would occur to a pair of black holes.

    I predicted that EHT, the event horizon telescope would not detect an event horizon around the black hole Sgr A* in the center of the Milky Way. The radio telescopes would detect gas and dust orbiting the black hole but the gas and dust would not fall into it. I also deduced that the energy the radio telescopes have been detecting is actually coming from the surface of the black hole and that Einstein's field equation was incorrect, that nothing is able to fall into a black hole, not dust or anything else let alone another black hole or a star. Black holes do not consume matter, they create new matter. Black holes slowly create the galaxies around them over time. They are the real trees of life giving rise to all the matter, energy and consciousness the galaxy could ever contain. Black holes are the givers of information, i.e., trees of knowledge. They do not destroy anything and black holes exist forever, never evaporating out of existence.

  • denijane

    The problem is in the management of the LIGO collaboration.Before they took the Nobel prize, everything was ridiculously secretive. Probably because there are billions of dollars involved. But that's not how science is done. Science needs to be reproducible. Which means, once you have published successfully your discovery, everything related to it should be published as well. Which is particularly true when it comes to ground-breaking discoveries. They did open their data, but that happened this year. But that's not enough, because their algorithms are so sophisticated, they need to also educate people how to use them. In short, it's really complicated and really hard to check the science. Even for astrophysicists, even for experts in grav. waves, it's just HARD. So even though the neutron stars merger was an absolute confirmation on their ability to detect grav. waves, we still have to be able to understand all the details before we can say if everything else but the pure existence is correct.

  • Matteo O'Connor

    I don't understand the problem. Random noise is likely to match up in certain spots with other random noise. But it should be easy to identify the nonrandom signal between the two.

  • ionoi

    Wouldn't any object that moves closer and away create gravity waves? It's just most of the time they're too weak to measure. I'm missing why it's so important

  • Christopher Sadoun

    Maybe the LIGO will be able to detect gravitational waves that come from the warp drives in the flying saucers if warp drive exists in flying saucers if flying saucers exist.

  • WestOfEarth

    The match up in several other signals would be other gravity-related events, right? I don't have their data, and not that I could understand it, but from what I've seen in this vid, this appears to be the case? Except that the lower amplitude correlations were within margins of error, and so weren't reliable. The black hole merger is a clear spike in the data.

  • Helgefan

    Then again, they managed to deduce pretty accurately where to look optically for those colliding neutron stars just from the time delay and signal strength in the results of the different detectors. And they actually observed plausible chemistry in the light for that event, so it seems rather unlikely that not only the gravitational wave detectors, but also the optical telescopes would agree just by accident….

  • Shannon Sims

    The supposed collaborative optical component everyone keeps mentioning was merely a coincidence. According to their own findings the object was located at the 50% range of their gravitational wave location probability map. This is not science and neither is LIGO. For the LIGO team to think they can detect something one-ten-thousandth the diameter of a proton is at best hubris, at worst delusional.
    Their paper can be found here: http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/2041-8213/aa9059/meta

  • FIDIRONU

    This is the second one of these dyke bints! 🙄
    Sheesh – isn't anyone straight out there any longer?
    FFS! 🧐

    It gave a great talk though, I'll give it that.

  • koo jaba

    LIGO's Detect Black-hole collision .. maybe
    LIGO's Detect gravitational waves … NO
    gravitational waves is a gravity as wave its can in-phase and out-phase = the spot in space that have gravity 0 = Lagrangian point
    Somebody found it many years ago NOT a LIGOs

  • Staminist

    THANK YOU!
    See? THIS is legit straight to the point attitude in science we should all abide by. The counterclaim was not silenced (like it happens sometimes), I mean – Nobel prizes were at stake!! Yet truth won! I applaud the Danish team and all who stood behind them!

  • Eric Holmquist

    Great breakdown of the scrutiny of the finding. While I'm sure the respective scientific communities will ultimately sort out the methods and findings, I'm still a little unsure what we do with the information, assuming that we do confirm, that we have in fact observed this cosmic wrinkle from billions of miles away. Does it simply support our understanding of something, or tell us something new?

  • Tom Mallard

    Consider that gravity can be a fluid that conducts forces, not a force itself, akin to the Higgs concept as omnipotent, yet, beyond resolution on what the fluid actually is …

  • V Soul

    Gravity is compressed hidden mass of space energy . So any object physical will have gravity depending on energy and mass it occupied in space .

  • Alex O

    The issue is that they think that gravitational waves are vastly different than all other waves, I don't that's the case. In fact I think that the other waves greatly contribute to how gravity works, in the manner in which it displaces the matter between the objects making "gravity" possible.

  • David Williams

    And why didn't you mention the use of templates? Once the 'noise' was removed from the raw data, the filtered data were 'compared' with a number of templates (250,000 plus 'chirps') based on what gravitational wave signal might be measured if black holes, of various sizes, and various distances, were to coalesce. Thus, a best fit of the processed data to one of these templates resulted in the 'discovery of gravitational waves'. Fantastic feat of engineering – measuring down to the diameter of a proton, etc – but the embedded statistical analysis is, unfortunately, open to question, as shown by the criticisms from the Niels Bohr Institute and others. There are also some doubts as to the existence of black holes – infinite density in an infinitely small location, etc – which reduces further the validity of such templates.

  • Aaerk Xaiedrschtaufenbach Aaerkhaezxahaenlock-e

    Personally I think black holes are "actual holes" in space time fabric or the plane of the universe, due to that, the hole causes infinite density because nothing can escape and it's a hole things don't get out of some holes (in this case black holes are that kind of un-escapable hole. Since nothing leaves it I think there's absolutely nothing on the other side, just pitch pitch black, the blackest black ever

  • havenly shamblin

    Look at sound light the brain ect. The whole picture was laid out by more than eighn stien. Its just peices brought together. Really you could tell water and space have alot in common. Waves in space just prove that.

  • Lennart Hedlund

    They have detected several waves since 2015. She forgot to mention that.
    https://www.ligo.org/detections/O1O2catalog/pr-english.pdf

  • Euan McMurtrie

    Can you really deny their methods when they have detected not only binary black hole mergers but also a neutron star merger which was detected by Earth based telescopes in multiple points in the EM spectrum?

  • hasina banu

    Well we're sure at least one instance: that case when two Neutron star merged and produced elector-magnetic wave beside gravitational wave. Signal pattern in that one vs noise pattern surrounding that signal can be used as a reference. Just saying.

  • Andrew Murphy

    Oversensationalize your clickbait headlines much? You said as much yourself, they all agreed it was detected, just a minor note that the data processing could be improved.

    This is clickbait and you should be ashamed of yourselves – this video was 2018, clickbait is so 2013.

  • Hand Solo

    2:02 They didn't detect shit, all they did was using a facility they designed to gather noises and then use an algorithm they wrote to generate a curve that matches one of their thousands of predictions. Same shit by climate change alarmist.

  • SPillay

    Danish fellas are jealous, i guess. And we have one more in ligo in italy, maybe a mafia conspiracy 😜😂😂😂

  • Anston Dsouza

    can't we just make a small observatory and just blast it off to space?? it will be easier as there will be no noise or any kind of other vibrations…. but I agree that it'll be expensive, heavy and really complex but if it works! the time, work and money will pay off!! and be careful of the space junk too.

  • L Lou

    LOL, okay, it is clear this is NOT science discovery until it can be redone again & again. You know what it is THEY want a GRANT, money & those guys who showed there was a problem have now got a slice of the pie. They ain't got s*it.

  • Sonia T

    The very next best logical option after this waste of money would be to actually develop the LISA (Laser Interferometer Space Antenna)project which will certainly be more viable as it will measure waves from space hence eliminating all background noises.

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