General relativity cuts the mustard - again !

17 September 2006.
  • A few days ago, Science Daily published a brief account, entitled General relativity survives gruelling pulsar test: Einstein at least 99.95 percent right, in which work carried out under the leadership of Professor Michael Kramer of the University of Manchester's Jodrell Bank Observatory, UK, has shown that the predictions of the general theory of relativity agree with recent observations of the behaviour of a (hitherto) unique double pulsar system, consisting of two neutron stars, PSR J0737-3039A and B, respectively, with regard to three critical parametres - gravitational redshift, Shapiro delay, and gravitational radiation and orbital decay. According to the review, the parametre which provides the most precise result is the time delay, known as the Shapiro Delay, suffered by the signals as they pass through the curved space-time surrounding the two neutron stars. At approximately 90 microseconds, the ratio of the observed and predicted values is 1.0001 +/- 0.0005 - a precision of 0.05%. Not bad by anybody's standards ! Think - if the majority of the funding and not least, the intelligence devoted to scientific research were employed in furthering this kind of work, rather than weapons development, how much more we, as a species, should know about the world in which we live, and how much greater a chance of living in it a bit longer we should have ! Here below, in any event, the response I posted to StumbleUpon after reading the article :

Fascinating that our ability to measure things has advanced to the point that such elusive entities as gravitational waves can be detected, even if only, as yet, indirectly. Thank you, Professor Einstein - and thank you, Galileo Galilei, who, presumably learning from the astronomers, put physics on the sound basis of measurement - remember those balls rolling down inclined planes which bored you so in secondary school ? - and thereby lay the foundations upon which the modern world was built....

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