Gravitational waves detected by LIGO from black hole collisions a billion years ago

Hat tip to vixra blog for these newly released plots of LIGO gravitational waves:

11 Feb 2016 LIGO gravitational wave data

gravitational wave discovery3

Physical Review Letters paper by B. P. Abbott et al., on discovery of gravitational waves, 11 February 2016
Physical Review Letters paper by B. P. Abbott et al., on discovery of gravitational waves, 11 February 2016.

The gravitational-wave event GW150914 observed by the LIGO Hanford (H1, left column panels) and Livingston (L1, right column panels) detectors. Times are shown relative to September 14, 2015 at 09:50:45 UTC:

gravitational wave discovery2

B. P. Abbott et al. (LIGO collaboration), “Observation of Gravitational Waves from a Binary Black Hole Merger”, Physical Review Letters, volume 116, 061102 (2016):

“On September 14, 2015 at 09:50:45 UTC the two detectors of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory simultaneously observed a transient gravitational-wave signal. The signal sweeps upwards in frequency from 35 to 250 Hz with a peak gravitational-wave strain of 1.0 × 10−21. It matches the waveform predicted by general relativity for the inspiral and merger of a pair of black holes and the ringdown of the resulting single black hole. … These observations demonstrate the existence of binary stellar-mass black hole systems. This is the first direct detection of gravitational waves and the first observation of a binary black hole merger.”

The two detectors used simply a long, large mass (a  tunnel in the ground) whose position was monitored by laser beams.  Working backwards from the observed signal to a possible cause using general relativity, the theory-interpreting “phenomenologists” (people tied to hyping one theory by ignoring all other theories that include gravity waves with different spin polarizations are bigots, not true phenomenologists who are careful to avoid the epicycles-error of contaminating data with one of many theoretical interpretations, in order to hype the theory as predicting the data, when really other theories could do that plus predict dark energy as well!) suggest the source is a pair of black holes of about 30 solar masses each, which collided 1.3 billion years ago – and 1.3 billion light years away (since gravity travels at light speed) and released enough gravitational wave energy to be detected here with the observed waveform.

The delay time between each detector station measuring the gravitational waveform was 7 milliseconds, corresponding to the light-speed difference in arrival time for the two stations.  The difficulty in detecting gravitational waves, requiring immense detectors and immensely massive, rapidly accelerating masses, stems from the relatively small gravitational coupling, which is a factor of about 10^40 times smaller than that of electromagnetism.  The seismic background activity on the earth (small tremors of masses, due to tidal forces from the moon’s orbit) covers up small gravitational wave signals, so it takes a massive event to be detectable.

Einstein claimed in a 1936 letter to Max Born that gravitational waves DON’T exist:

“Together with a young collaborator, I arrived at the interesting result that gravitational waves do not exist, although they had been assumed a certainty to a first approximation.”

This led to a long argument between Einstein and the editor of the Physical Review, after a peer reviewer disagreed with Einstein!  Eventually Einstein withdrew his paper, “Do Gravitational Waves Exist?”, improved his argument and reversed the conclusion (from “no” to “yes”) and submitted it elsewhere after promising never to submit to PR again!

(Similarly, the very first innovator to correctly calculate the anomalous magnetic moment of the electron in 1948, quantum field theorist Julian Schwinger, in 1991 resigned his fellowship from the American Physical Society after its lead journal, Physical Review Letters, refused to publish his papers on a controversial topic!  Schwinger’s 1991 resignation letter infamously stated: “The pressure for conformity is enormous. I have experienced it in editors’ rejection of submitted papers, based on venomous criticism of anonymous referees. The replacement of impartial reviewing by censorship will be the death of science.” Like Einstein, Schwinger was a Nobel Laureate.  Even such celebrities feel coerced and censored by fashion bigots!)

Wolfgang Steinick’s article, “Einstein and the Gravitational Waves”, Astron. Nachr. / AN 326 (2005), No. 7, points out that Einstein’s approach predicts quadrupole moment source gravitational waves, i.e. gravitational waves from pair of mass rotating around one another (and spiralling inwards towards one another, due to the conversion of kinetic energy into gravitational wave energy!).  Such masses have acceleration a = (v^2)/r where v is orbital velocity and r is radius of orbit.  However, you get a similar feature in classical (not quantum!) electrodynamics, e.g. the classic problem of radiation emission from orbital charges.  Steinick simply ignores this analogy and speciously (wrongly) claims classical electrodynamics makes a totally different wave prediction:

“In analogy to electrodynamics, where accelerated charges emit electromagnetic waves, the linearized theory creates gravitational waves, propagating with the speed of light in the (background) Minkowski space-time. A major difference: Instead of a dipole moment, now a quadrupole moment is needed. Thus sources of gravitational waves are objects like a “rotating dumbbell”, e. g. realized by a binary star system. As there was no chance for detecting gravitational waves, due to their extreme weakness … 

The existence of gravitational waves was always a matter of controversy. Curiously Einstein himself was not convinced in 1936. In a paper with Nathan Rosen he came to the conclusion, that gravitational waves do not exist! Curiously too is the story of its publication. Einstein’s manuscript, titled DO GRAVITATIONAL WAVES EXIST?, was rejected by the “Physical Review”. In an angry reply he withdrawed the paper, to appear later in the “Journal of the Franklin Institute” (choosing a less provoking headline [3]). To clear the situation, various approximation schemes were developed. One of the first, introduced by Einstein, Infeld and Hoffmann in 1938 [4], led to the famous EIH equations.

This “post-Newtonian” treatment describes slow moving bodies in a weak field (“bounded systems”). In the EIH approximation there is no radiation up to the order ( v c ) 4 , the energy remains constant. The QF appears in the next order, as demonstrated by Hu in 1947 [5]. What’s about fast moving particles? This problem had to wait until the early 1960’s, when the Lorentz-invariant perturbation methods (“fast-motion approximation”), describing “unbounded systems”, were developed. The question of an analogy to the QF (“radiation damping”) was strongly discussed. In 1975 a major boost was caused by the discovery of the binary pulsar PSR 1913 + 16 by Hulse and Taylor [6].”

Nigel Cook quantum gravity the 1996 quantitative prediction of dark energy from a simple ENTIRELY FACT BASED calculation before its discovery in 1998 by perlmutter leading to his Nobel prize

In reality, a pair of electric charges in orbit around one another are predicted to emit electromagnetic waves by classical electromagnetism, so there IS indeed a valid analogy to the quadrupole moment source in general relativity.  In other words, both theories (Maxwell with a coupling 10^40 times smaller for masses not charges, and general relativity) predict gravitational waves under the circumstances of the black hole collision, so it’s just nasty hype to claim that one particular celebrity-hyped theory rather than another was “proved” by observation.  By analogy, I predicted dark energy quantitatively from an entirely fact based theory in 1996, but this is censored out and even ignored by friends for precisely the same reason: I’m not a celebrity (I don’t want to be), and anything that doesn’t appeal to mass cult populism and sci fi hype is taboo.  The media won’t report the death of your grandma unless she is a princess, politician, queen or has some other call to fame or cult following that demands to know the “news”.  News is just celebrity hype.  Notice also that in 1975, Hulse and Taylor did discover gravitational wave effects, from the speeding up of radio pulses from the binary pulsar PSR 1913 + 16, due to a contracting orbit caused by loss of kinetic energy in gravitational waves.  This could thus be considered a discovery of gravitational waves.  The oscillation of a large mass in GIGO may seem more direct than the contraction of an orbit, but it’s also convincing evidence.

Readers will be aware of the groupthink dictators’s “controversy” over the gravitational wave spin.  Traditional mythology is driven by Pauli and Fierz in 1939, assuming two masses only exchanging quantum gravitational radiation, (duh, what about other masses around us all!) thus finding on the basis of that specious assumption that the gravitational radiation needs to be spin-2 for attraction to occur (M. Fierz and W. Pauli , “On Relativistic Wave Equations for Particles of Arbitrary Spin in an Electromagnetic Field”, Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series A, Mathematical and Physical Sciences, Vol. 173, No. 953 (Nov. 28, 1939), pp. 211-232).  A simpler analogy of gravitational radiation is like a Casimir pushing-together effect but with dark energy. The Casimir force decreases as 1/r^4 not 1/r^2 like gravity, but that’s because parallel conducting plates exclude only wavelengths which are greater than the separation distance between the parallel plates, so you get an IR cutoff for the spectrum causing pressure between the plate’s that changes as 1/r^2 i.e. as a function of distance r, thus the net pressure on the plates goes as 1/r^4 partly because of 1/r^2 shielding geometry and partly of the additional similar factor of 1/r^2 which is due to the distance-dependent spectrum which exists in the gap between the plates!  Naturally this is deliberately obfuscated by the nasty people in order to reduce popular understanding of how similar the Casimir mechanism is to gravitation.  Another trick they use is to point out that if you use not parallel places but concave plates like parabolic radar antennas to focus the exchanged energy from each plate into the other, while the outer surfaces of the places diverges the energy, reducing the inward pressure, and can thus give an overall or net repulsion effect:

Casimir effect with curved plates

Thus, an analogy to electromagnetic radiation emitted by accelerating charge and to dark energy as a source of gravitation, predicts small gravitational waves from accelerating masses, the smallness being due to the small ratio of the gravitational coupling to that of electromagnetism, but this doesn’t require the usual specious arguments for spin-2.  In fact a simple prediction of gravitational waves by analogy to electromagnetism was done long before Einstein (who in 1935 wrongly dismissed gravitational waves using a spurious argument that led to him refusing to publish ever again in the Physical Review).

Professor Henri Poincaré’s 5 June 1905 explicit prediction of gravitational waves from accelerating masses, by simple analogy to electromagnetic radiation from accelerating electric charges, is confirmed, CRT 140 (1905) 1504-1508 (Academy of Sciences, France):

“But that’s not all: Lorentz, in the cited book, found it necessary to complete his hypothesis by assuming that all forces, whatever their origin, being affected by a translation, in the same way that the electromagnetic forces, and, therefore, the effect on components by the Lorentz transformation is still defined by the equations (4). It was important to examine this hypothesis more closely and in particular to examine what changes it would require us to bring the laws of gravitation. This is what I sought to determine; I was first led to speculation that the spread of gravitation is not instantaneous, but occurs with the speed of light. … When we therefore speak of the position or velocity of the attracting body, it will be in this position or the speed at the moment when the gravitational wave is part of this body; when we speak of the position or velocity of the attracted body, it will be in this position or the speed at the moment when it attracted body was achieved by the gravitational wave emanating from the other body; it is clear that the first instant precedes the second.”

Dictators of the pro-spin-2 superstring variety will ignore the facts and try to hype up gravitational waves, regardless of the true spin, as a confirmation of popular celebrity star Einstein, not some obscure figure who made the prediction first.  In fact, Laplace had already proposed that gravitational propagates at light velocity, not instantaneously as Newton falsely assumed:

Poincare prediction of gravitational waves 1905

Above: Poincare’s 1905 prediction of gravitational waves propagating at light speed.

Here’s a copy of a comment by me to Dr Motl’s blog, the Reference Frame (it’s in the comment moderation queue there, so just in case it gets “lost” I’m adding it below):

It looks like a circular argument to me: they’ve spend months running a model of collapsing black holes to try to replicate the gravitational wave results LIGO detected. They then announce not only their data, but a claim that they know what the source was in great detail. Isn’t that a circular argument?

What I want from observations is data, not data interpretation, which is a hybrid of theory and data, that suffers from bigotry in fitting the data to fashionable theories.

Take general relativity.  In 1919, the deflection of starlight by gravity was found to follow Einstein’s model (twice the deflection of the Newtonian bullet).  Fair enough, but aside from a geometric model of spacetime, the actual physics in Einstein’s equations come from imposing energy conservation (the contraction effect causing the doubling of the Newtonian deflection) which may also work in all other models of gravity that impose energy conservation.  So you have a hyped theory, you test it, it agrees with the observations, then you claim it’s the one true final theory and we don’t need to worry about alternative models that might do the same, plus more, or provide better understanding.

Then you fit GR to cosmology (with help from dark matter and later dark energy too, after discarding Einstein’s 1917 static uinverse prediction, without ridiculing GR for that error of Einstein), and you measure gravitational redshift of gamma rays going upwards, and the 1975 gravitational waves from a pulsar which caused it to speed up (loss of kinetic energy, thus a decreasing orbit size and faster orbits) and now gravitational wave strains on tunnels.

Each time, the new observation which has been “explained” by the theory is hyped as “yet another test”, while alternative possibilities are not being researched.  It’s the “Matthew effect”.  All research goes into the first theory to have a real success, which becomes a celebrity, a fashion cult.  Sure, it’s one way to interpret the data successfully.  But is it the best theory just because it’s the first one to make checkable predictions?  It is the “only” theory merely because other ideas have been censored out as taboo without the work that has gone into the mainstream model?

For comparison, here’s the comment I made to Dr Motl’s blog yesterday, before the LIGO announcement was made:

It’s clear from an analogy to electromagnetic theory that if you accelerate a gravitational charge (mass-energy) you will get some radiation, i.e. gravitational waves. That’s not rocket science. But you are going to get a very low signal strength due to the small gravitational coupling relative to electromagnetism, and that’s going to be hard to distinguish clearly from seismic background effects on the large masses used as gravitational wave detectors. By correlating arrival times of gravitational waves from sensors in different places on the planet, you can tell their direction and speed (c) and thus correlate them to the part of sky where they originated and maybe find some supernova or black hole collision that may have caused them. But there’s going to be a lot of uncertainties in an attempt at a quantitative check, and it’s likely to be a communist-style “big science” mutual backslapping, “pay us more cash, we’re clever” celebrity hype event. The opposite of objectivity. Fools could predict gravitational waves and detect them by bouncing laser beams off large massive weights, given enough cash. That’s not hard science, just groupthink technology. It doesn’t put any theories under pressure!

Dr Motl at that time (yesterday) responded:

“Sorry, Nigel, the gravitational waves from the Cosmos are weak but they may be separated and/or distinguished from the seismic activity and, as tomorrow’s announcement will clarify, the people who have worked on exactly this problem have mastered this purely technical problem pretty well – and it will unavoidably get better in the future. So your cynical remarks are just garbage.”

However, now after reading LIGO’s PRL paper, he writes that as far as he’s concerned they have so far not clarified that technical problem pretty well:

“By the way, there are various technicalities they must have mastered but they are bothering me. One of them is that the two LIGO clones’ signals shouldn’t differ just by the overall intensity and a time delay. They measure polarizations with respect to slightly different axes (a “plus” in Washington state, a combination of “plus” and “cross” in Louisiana) so the precise functions of time may differ as well, right? Appreciate that the incoming signal may be partly circularly polarized, i.e. an out-of-sync superposition of the two “cross/plus” polarizations. I think it would be helpful to have at least 8 clones of LIGO, to measure the location of the source more accurately and to be more clear about the different polarizations.”

My point made clear, repeated again for the stupid: knock any big masses together and any quantum theory of gravity will predict some gravitational radiation.  What I would have found impressive in a theoretical interpretation paper is a visual observation of the source of the gravitational waves and a set of predictions based on that of what the amplitude and waveform of the instrument would be from a variety of different theories, and a comparison of those predictions with the observation.  Instead, we have just more political PRL crap again, a mixture of data with fashionable theory designed to hype it.

(Notice that Dr Motl and his colleagues also refuse to listen to objective, rational ideas and criticisms of superstring theory hype from Dr Woit, but the real fault is the celebrity and fashion obsessed media and educational establishment, hating/fearing alternatives.  The easily confused are more worried about not recalling the sacred text due to being overwhelmed with information, than missing out on the opportunity for genuine debate.)

Chenhao Tan, et al., “Winning Arguments: Interaction Dynamics and Persuasion Strategies in Good-faith Online Discussions”,, 2 Feb 2016:

“Changing someone’s opinion is arguably one of the most important challenges of social interaction. The underlying process proves difficult to study: it is hard to know how someone’s opinions are formed and whether and how someone’s views shift. … We find that persuasive arguments are characterized by interesting patterns of interaction dynamics, such as participant entry-order and degree of back-and-forth exchange.”[Hence, refusals to engage in discussion by “peer reviewers” and others is a defensive mechanism to avoid even going in the direction of rational debate and objective discussions.]

How to win a Facebook argument, according to science, by  February 11 2016:

  • … Respond in groups: You’re more persuasive to the person you’re arguing with if other people are arguing your side, too.
  • Have a few back-and-forth exchanges with your opponent, but never go past three or four. Up to that point, your chance of persuading them is pretty good. But Tan says that “when the back-and-forth goes on for too long, your chances at persuasion become very low.” …

All of these quoted “tips” are of course impossible if you’re really innovating and doing something unfashionable. You won’t have a group to back up up if you’re really doing something new and thus unfashionable (the whole reason for criticising orthodoxy and giving alternative ideas is that you’re trying to create a group to work on alternative ideas, by debating with people; in other words that’s a catch-22 situation), opponents are opponents precisely because they’re bigoted in favor of something else and so just want to ignore your points and make irrelevant comments or jokes, anything to close the discussion down without having a scientific debate.  They just want to discuss orthodoxy or something pertaining to orthodoxy.  The lesson that science is objectivity is set aside for hype of celebrity and fashion in science.

One thought on “Gravitational waves detected by LIGO from black hole collisions a billion years ago

  1. “Quite amazing, just as predicted, observation of two black holes coalescing, a historic discovery.” – Dr Peter Woit,

    It’s today no longer regarded as fraud to use a theory to invent a speculative cause for an observed waveform, and then to claim by a circular argument that this speculative interpretation proves that the waveform is generated by the speculative event!

    In the old days of observational and theoretically honest science, a gravitational wave would be reported as the instrument measured data, without adding a lot of theoretical interpretation in a circular argument to claim that the particular theory used to interpret the data must be correct.

    This new PRL paper style is a not new at all, it’s just a retreat back to the bad old days where every new observation in astronomy was immediately interpretated in terms of epicycles, the reigning theory, with no honest objectivity.

    What the PRL paper authors should have done is to either publish the data alone, or publish the data with alternative interpretations including some based on quantum gravity rather than classical general relativity, or better still, get observational visible evidence for the masses of the black holes collision that is the source, and then seen which theoretical interpretation offers the best fit to match the observed source (black hole collision observation) with the observed waveform measured in the gravitational wave sensors on earth.

    They haven’t done any of these! What they’ve done is to interpret the data using only the mainstream theory reigning now, and then let readers like Woit interpret the paper as a confirmation of that mainstream theory, without acknowledging that it is a circular argument because: (a) only the mainstream theory of gravitational waves has been used work backwards from the waveform to a possible source, and (b) no observational evidence is given to back up the calculated masses of the possible source.

    There is no comparison between theory and observation here. There is just an observation with a theoretical interpretation. This is precisely Ptolemy’s approach to “science” in his epicycles theory. Take any observations, interpret them as epicycles, and then claim you have a completely validated system that excludes any alternative (because alternatives have been ignored!).

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