My second piece for BBC Future is up! I ask—and partly answer—the question, “Will we ever detect gravitational waves directly?” (And don’t worry if you don’t know what a gravitational wave is: I answer that one too!)
A major part of the problem is that gravity is weak: even the strongest gravitational wave will only nudge an atom by a tiny amount. Additionally, the wavelength of gravitational radiation – the distance over which a wave repeats itself – is often similar to the size of the objects emitting it. So, while radio waves from pulsars may have wavelengths measured in centimetres, the gravitational radiation emitted could have wavelengths measured in kilometres. Which means that you most likely need detectors of a similar size to detect them. [Read more…]
For those of you in the UK, you might need to use this link instead, due to weird issues with the BBC website.