Feeds

Perfect balls and rubber sheets

US Space Agency launch to test Einstein's maths

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

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. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
MEN: For pity's sake SLEEP with LOTS of WOMEN - and avoid Prostate Cancer
And, um, don't sleep with other men. If that's what worries you
Voyager 1 now EIGHTEEN LIGHT HOURS from home
Almost 20 BEEELION kilometres from Sol
HUGE SHARK as big as a WWII SUBMARINE died out, allowing whales to exist
Who'd win a fight: Megalodon or a German battleship?
Jim Beam me up, Scotty! WHISKY from SPAAACE returns to Earth
They're insured for $1m, before you thirsty folks make plans
ROGUE SAIL BOAT blocks SPACE STATION PODULE blastoff
Er, we think our ISS launch beats your fishing expedition
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
BAE points electromagnetic projectile at US Army
Railguns for 'Future fighting vehicle'
LONG ARM of the SAUR: Brachially gifted dino bone conundrum solved
Deinocheirus mirificus was a bit of a knuckle dragger
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
How to simplify SSL certificate management
Simple steps to take control of SSL certificates across the enterprise, and recommendations centralizing certificate management throughout their lifecycle.