Consortium presents plans for a high-tech observatory for gravity waves
Scientists go underground with Einstein
If it’s up to a consortium of Belgian, German and Dutch universities and research institutions, the coming years will be marked by intensive construction of the Einstein Telescope in Dutch Limburg, 200–300 metres beneath the earth’s crust. With this prestigious international project, scientists hope to monitor gravity waves, which will also be beneficial to the industry.
In the early 20th century, Albert Einstein predicted the existence of gravity waves – fluctuations in the curvature of spacetime – in his theory of relativity. These gravity waves were observed for the first time in 2015. Two years later, this would result in a Nobel Prize in Physics for the three scientists involved. Since that time, gravity waves have been attracting considerable attention. This has even led to a new area of scientific research: gravitational-wave astronomy.
‘We use telescopes to monitor these gravity waves’, notes Nick van Remortel, a physics professor at the University of Antwerp. ‘In order to view stars, these telescopes should ideally be placed in the most remote locations possible. This is not the case for telescopes that are used to study gravity waves. We therefore need specific infrastructure, including high-tech lasers, with underground tunnels, which can be created even in densely populated areas. The underground character is important in order to suppress natural vibrations, as well as those caused by human activity’.
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