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Space

Gravitational Waves May Have Been Detected In 1987 221

KentuckyFC writes "In 1987, a physicist called Joe Weber claimed to have detected gravitational waves at the same time that other scientists spotted a supernova called SN1987A. His claims were largely ignored because of calculations showing that gravitational waves could not be strong enough to be picked up by Weber's equipment, a set of giant aluminium cylinders designed to vibrate as the waves passed by. But these calculations were based on first order effects in the way spacetime can be distorted. Now a new analysis shows that second order effects can enhance gravitational waves by four orders of magnitude, but only when certain asymmetries are present. It turns out that SN1987A possesses just the right kind of asymmetries to make this enhancement possible because the supernova wasn't entirely spherical. Which means that Weber, who died in 2000, may have been the first to see gravitational waves after all."

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