Our Universe Beats Like a Heart

LIGO has found waves without light,

In finding them Einstein was right;

General laws of his were smart,

Our Universe beats like a heart.

 

Looking for two black holes to crash,

In faith they searched for the backlash;

Glory to those who played their part,

Our Universe beats like a heart.

 

Lasers at right angles were placed,

In hopes the ripples could be traced;

Great pebbles in the cosmic chart,

Our Universe beats like a heart.

 

L-shaped they lay across the ground;

In search of some strange chirping sound,

Gigantic bodies torn apart,

Our Universe beats like a heart.

 

Leached from the death of distant stars,

Implied by Hulse-Taylor’s pulsars;

Gone are the doubts, we can impart:

Our Universe beats like a heart.

 

Light could not prove the paradigm,

It can not pierce the start of time;

Gravity can reveal the start,

Our Universe beats like a heart.

A three-dimensional simulation of merging black holes (Photo Credit: Henze, NASA).
A three-dimensional simulation of merging black holes (Photo Credit: Henze, NASA).

This is an Acrostic Kyrielle, based on the ground-breaking piece of research which detected gravitational waves, at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) in Livingston, Louisiana and the other in Hanford, Washington (there are 2 arrays, set 2,000 miles apart in order to help reduce error and increase reliability of results). These arrays worked by having two 4-km lasers set at right angles to one another, which were tuned to be able to detect ripples in spacetime. In order for these ripples to be detected a cataclysmic event needed to occur (in this case the collision of two black holes over 1.3 billion light years away), and even then the distortion in spacetime was miniscule (less than one hundredth the diameter of the nucleus of a single atom).

The detection of gravitational waves is proof of one of the consequences of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity: that our Universe was created out of a single event – the big bang singularity. Gravitational waves will help us to probe the very beginning of the Universe; traditional light-based techniques (e.g. radio waves and X-rays) cannot see further back than 400,000 years after the big bang, as the early universe was so dense that it is opaque to light.

An audio version of this poem can be heard here.

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