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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Searching for Gravity Waves Using 'Squeezed Light'

There is a neat article (click here) that describes a new technique that is to be used to search for gravitational radiation, the strange effect predicted by Einstein some 90 years ago in his general theory of relativity. The essence of this technique of 'squeezed light' is that a special crystal splits a photon into two, meaning they are then entangled. It is the entanglement that can amplify the effect and sensitivity of the detector, and distinguish an unbelievably weak effect from gravitational waves from the effects of the vacuum (such as virtual photons being produced out of the vacuum of space - something called quantum fluctuations).

This is obviously weird. The concepts come out of the mathematics of quantum mechanics, certainly no easy task to solve. While that may not be so comprehensible to you right now, just know that these strange predictions have been confirmed in countless experiments over the past century. As technology continues to advance, fields such as quantum computing and quantum optics continue to progress, and in this case may help in the construction of the most sensitive measuring device ever built to try and test Einstein's predictions about gravitational radiation. It will be fun to see this develop and, perhaps, produce one more staggering confirmation about Einstein's theories from nearly a century ago. Stay tuned...

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