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ablethevoice 11-18-2005 10:22 PM

NASA Collects Gravity Data to Test Einstein's Theory
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Is Earth in a vortex of space-time?

We'll soon know the answer: A NASA/Stanford physics experiment called Gravity Probe B (GP-B) recently finished a year of gathering science data in Earth orbit. The results, which will take another year to analyze, should reveal the shape of space-time around Earth--and, possibly, the vortex.

Time and space, according to Einstein's theories of relativity, are woven together, forming a four-dimensional fabric called "space-time." The tremendous mass of Earth dimples this fabric, much like a heavy person sitting in the middle of a trampoline. Gravity, says Einstein, is simply the motion of objects following the curvaceous lines of the dimple.

If Earth were stationary, that would be the end of the story. But Earth is not stationary. Our planet spins, and the spin should twist the dimple, slightly, pulling it around into a 4-dimensional swirl. This is what GP-B went to space to check

The idea behind the experiment is simple:

Put a spinning gyroscope into orbit around the Earth, with the spin axis pointed toward some distant star as a fixed reference point. Free from external forces, the gyroscope's axis should continue pointing at the star--forever. But if space is twisted, the direction of the gyroscope's axis should drift over time. By noting this change in direction relative to the star, the twists of space-time could be measured.

In practice, the experiment is tremendously difficult.


Savage_Nature 11-18-2005 11:22 PM

Re: NASA Collects Gravity Data to Test Einstein's Theory
Wow... that would change physics as we know it if they find a flaw with Einstien's theory... wow...

ablethevoice 11-19-2005 11:08 AM

Re: NASA Collects Gravity Data to Test Einstein's Theory
Yes Indeed! As the article says "stay tuned", I intend to keep a close eye on the results of this research.

Savage_Nature 11-19-2005 05:04 PM

Re: NASA Collects Gravity Data to Test Einstein's Theory
I think the real question is what is their definition of "we will soon know the answer"

EDIT: Well upon re-reading the article they said it will take a year to analyze the data so... I'm not going to hold my breath.

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