Feeds

Perfect balls and rubber sheets

US Space Agency launch to test Einstein's maths

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Boost IT visibility and business value

Boffins are set to discover if the Earth distorts space-time as it spins, as the Gravity-B probe is scheduled to launch today at 18:01 GMT.

The satellite will provide precise measurements of how a massive object, such as the Earth, bends space. It will also test the theory that the Earth drags space along with it as it spins

The probe will carry four of the most perfect spheres ever made. By watching how these near-perfect spheres spin, the US Space Agency hopes to test two predictions of Einstein's General Theory of Relativity.

The experiment is very simple, on paper, and was first proposed in the 1930s by Sir Arthurs Eddington. The spacecraft will be aimed constantly at a distant star. The spin axes of the on-board gyroscopes should drift minutely if the dragging effect occurs.

Actually carrying out the experiment depended on being able to build spheres perfect enough to detect the tiny changes predicted by Einstein's equations. The balls must also be kept close to absolute zero, and are held inside the biggest vacuum chamber ever sent into space, according to the BBC.

Gravity-B is due to take off on a Boeing Delta 2 rocket from Vandenberg Air Base in California. If successful, the van-sized spacecraft will orbit the planet 640km over our heads. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
Flamewars in SPAAACE: cooler fires hint at energy efficiency
Experiment aboard ISS shows we should all chill out for cleaner engines
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
NASA Mars rover FINALLY equals 1973 Soviet benchmark
Yet to surpass ancient Greek one, however
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.