Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Laser 'Disco Ball' Satellite to Prove Space-Time Warping?

This 'disco ball' is the densest object orbiting the solar system

Called LARES, this tiny — but remarkably heavy — satellite both looks and acts like a disco ball. By bouncing lasers off its reflectors, Italian researchers are hoping to prove Einstein’s conjecture that the Earth warps space-time as it rotates.

One important aspect of general relativity is an effect called rotational-frame dragging, or the Lense-Thirring effect. Einstein said that the rotation of a sufficiently massive object would distort space and time, thus dragging a nearby object out of position (a phenomenon known as precess) in a way that would overrule the much simpler math posited by classical Newtonian physics.

This 'disco ball' is the densest object orbiting the solar system

But capturing the effects of rotational-frame dragging has proven exceedingly difficult; the effect is incredibly minute — about one part in a few trillion. The only way to measure it is to look at something massive, like a black hole, or create a super sensitive device and put it into orbit.

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  1. I love the lighting effect of this. I've seen this on one party I have attended.

    irene of K20 Tesla

  2. This is so awesome; the crazy thing is that I had an awesome talk with my cube mate at work regarding super massive black holes and there effects. I coined the phrase hyper massive black hole.