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posted by martyb on Tuesday December 05, @07:15AM   Printer-friendly
from the buh-bye! dept.

Gravitational wave detectors could provide advance notice of seismic waves caused by powerful earthquakes (magnitude 8.5 and greater), allowing a little more time for people to evacuate (particularly at coastal regions that may be endangered by a tsunami):

Gravity signals that race through the ground at the speed of light could help seismologists get a better handle on the size of large, devastating quakes soon after they hit, a study suggests. The tiny changes in Earth's gravitational field, created when the ground shifts, arrive at seismic-monitoring stations well before seismic waves.

"The good thing we can do with these signals is have quick information on the magnitude of the quake," says Martin Vallée, a seismologist at the Paris Institute of Earth Physics.

Seismometers in China and South Korea picked up gravity signals immediately after the magnitude-9.1 Tohoku earthquake that devastated parts of Japan in 2011, Vallée and his colleagues report in Science on December 1. The signals appear as tiny accelerations on seismic-recording equipment, more than a minute before the seismic waves show up.

Observations and modeling of the elastogravity signals preceding direct seismic waves (DOI: 10.1126/science.aao0746) (DX)

Related: First Joint Detection of Gravitational Waves by LIGO and Virgo
The Nobel Physics Prize Has Been Awarded to 3 Scientists for Discoveries in Gravitational Waves
"Kilonova" Observed Using Gravitational Waves, Sparking Era of "Multimessenger Astrophysics"


Original Submission

Related Stories

First Joint Detection of Gravitational Waves by LIGO and Virgo 39 comments

For the first time three gravitational wave detectors have recorded the same event. The detection was made by both LIGO and Advanced Virgo (which has just recently begun collecting data for the first time). From the news release:

The LIGO Scientific Collaboration and the Virgo collaboration report the first joint detection of gravitational waves with both the LIGO and Virgo detectors. This is the fourth announced detection of a binary black hole system and the first significant gravitational-wave signal recorded by the Virgo detector, and highlights the scientific potential of a three-detector network of gravitational-wave detectors.

The three-detector observation was made on August 14, 2017 at 10:30:43 UTC. The two Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors, located in Livingston, Louisiana, and Hanford, Washington, and funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Virgo detector, located near Pisa, Italy, detected a transient gravitational-wave signal produced by the coalescence of two stellar mass black holes.

A paper about the event, known as GW170814, has been accepted for publication in the journal Physical Review Letters.


Original Submission

The Nobel Physics Prize Has Been Awarded to 3 Scientists for Discoveries in Gravitational Waves 6 comments

The Nobel Physics Prize 2017 has been awarded to three scientists for their discoveries in gravitational waves. The three are Rainer Weiss of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Barry Barish and Kip Thorne of the California Institute of Technology. The German-born Weiss was awarded half of the 9-million-kronor ($1.1 million) prize amount and Thorne and Barish will split the other half.

https://phys.org/news/2017-10-nobel-physics-prize-awarded-scientists.html

[Announcement Video]: The Nobel Physics Prize 2017

[Also Covered By]: Gravitational wave scientists win 2017 Nobel Physics Prize


Original Submission

"Kilonova" Observed Using Gravitational Waves, Sparking Era of "Multimessenger Astrophysics" 40 comments

Scientists Witness Huge Cosmic Crash, Find Origins of Gold

It started in a galaxy called NGC 4993, seen from Earth in the Hydra constellation. Two neutron stars, collapsed cores of stars so dense that a teaspoon of their matter would weigh 1 billion tons, danced ever faster and closer together until they collided, said Carnegie Institution astronomer Maria Drout.

The crash, called a kilonova, generated a fierce burst of gamma rays and a gravitational wave, a faint ripple in the fabric of space and time, first theorized by Albert Einstein.

The signal arrived on Earth on Aug. 17 after traveling 130 million light-years. [...] The colliding stars spewed bright blue, super-hot debris that was dense and unstable. Some of it coalesced into heavy elements, like gold, platinum and uranium. Scientists had suspected neutron star collisions had enough power to create heavier elements, but weren't certain until they witnessed it. "We see the gold being formed," said Syracuse's Brown.

So the ring on your finger is actually the skeletal remains of neutron stars.

Observatories Across the World Announce Groundbreaking New Gravitational Wave Discovery

Today, physicists and astronomers around the world are announcing a whole new kind of gravitational wave signal at a National Science Foundation press conference in Washington, DC. But it's not just gravitational waves. That August day, x-ray telescopes, visible light, radio telescopes, and gamma-ray telescopes all spotted a flash, one consistent with a pair of neutron stars swirling together, colliding and coalescing into a black hole. The observation, called a "kilonova," simultaneously answered questions like "where did the heavy metal in our Universe come from" and "what causes some of the gamma-ray bursts scientists have observed since the 60s." It also posed new ones.

[...] All in all, the discovery marks an important milestone in gravitational wave astronomy and proof that LIGO and Virgo do more than spot colliding black holes. At present, the detectors are all receiving sensitivity upgrades. When they come back online, they may see other sources like some supernovae or maybe even a chorus of background gravitational waves from the most distant stellar collisions.

https://gizmodo.com/observatories-across-the-world-announce-groundbreaking-1819500578

[Also Covered By]:

Papers:

Optical emission from a kilonova following a gravitational-wave-detected neutron-star merger (open, DOI: 10.1038/nature24291) (DX)

Spectroscopic identification of r-process nucleosynthesis in a double neutron-star merger (open, DOI: 10.1038/nature24298) (DX)

A gravitational-wave standard siren measurement of the Hubble constant (open, DOI: 10.1038/nature24471) (DX)

The X-ray counterpart to the gravitational-wave event GW170817 (open, DOI: 10.1038/nature24290) (DX)

A kilonova as the electromagnetic counterpart to a gravitational-wave source (open, DOI: 10.1038/nature24303) (DX)

Origin of the heavy elements in binary neutron-star mergers from a gravitational-wave event (open, DOI: 10.1038/nature24453) (DX)

Multi-messenger Observations of a Binary Neutron Star Merger (open, DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/aa91c9) (DX)

Gravitational Waves and Gamma-Rays from a Binary Neutron Star Merger: GW170817 and GRB 170817A (open, DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/aa920c) (DX)

An Ordinary Short Gamma-Ray Burst with Extraordinary Implications: Fermi-GBM Detection of GRB 170817A (open, DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/aa8f41) (DX)

INTEGRAL Detection of the First Prompt Gamma-Ray Signal Coincident with the Gravitational-wave Event GW170817 (open, DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/aa8f94) (DX)

The Electromagnetic Counterpart of the Binary Neutron Star Merger LIGO/Virgo GW170817. I. Discovery of the Optical Counterpart Using the Dark Energy Camera (open, DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/aa9059) (DX)

The Electromagnetic Counterpart of the Binary Neutron Star Merger LIGO/Virgo GW170817. II. UV, Optical, and Near-infrared Light Curves and Comparison to Kilonova Models (open, DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/aa8fc7) (DX)

The Electromagnetic Counterpart of the Binary Neutron Star Merger LIGO/Virgo GW170817. III. Optical and UV Spectra of a Blue Kilonova from Fast Polar Ejecta (open, DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/aa9029) (DX)

The Electromagnetic Counterpart of the Binary Neutron Star Merger LIGO/Virgo GW170817. IV. Detection of Near-infrared Signatures of r-process Nucleosynthesis with Gemini-South (open, DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/aa905c) (DX)

The Electromagnetic Counterpart of the Binary Neutron Star Merger LIGO/Virgo GW170817. V. Rising X-Ray Emission from an Off-axis Jet (open, DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/aa9057) (DX)

The Electromagnetic Counterpart of the Binary Neutron Star Merger LIGO/Virgo GW170817. VI. Radio Constraints on a Relativistic Jet and Predictions for Late-time Emission from the Kilonova Ejecta (open, DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/aa905d) (DX)

The Electromagnetic Counterpart of the Binary Neutron Star Merger LIGO/Virgo GW170817. VII. Properties of the Host Galaxy and Constraints on the Merger Timescale (open, DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/aa9055) (DX)

The Electromagnetic Counterpart of the Binary Neutron Star Merger LIGO/Virgo GW170817. VIII. A Comparison to Cosmological Short-duration Gamma-Ray Bursts (open, DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/aa9018) (DX)

The Discovery of the Electromagnetic Counterpart of GW170817: Kilonova AT 2017gfo/DLT17ck (open, DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/aa8edf) (DX)

A Deep Chandra X-Ray Study of Neutron Star Coalescence GW170817 (open, DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/aa8ede) (DX)

The Unprecedented Properties of the First Electromagnetic Counterpart to a Gravitational-wave Source (open, DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/aa905e) (DX)

The Emergence of a Lanthanide-rich Kilonova Following the Merger of Two Neutron Stars (open, DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/aa90b6) (DX)

Observations of the First Electromagnetic Counterpart to a Gravitational-wave Source by the TOROS Collaboration (open, DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/aa9060) (DX)

The Old Host-galaxy Environment of SSS17a, the First Electromagnetic Counterpart to a Gravitational-wave Source (open, DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/aa9116) (DX)

The Distance to NGC 4993: The Host Galaxy of the Gravitational-wave Event GW170817 (open, DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/aa9110) (DX)

The Rapid Reddening and Featureless Optical Spectra of the Optical Counterpart of GW170817, AT 2017gfo, during the First Four Days (open, DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/aa9111) (DX)

Optical Follow-up of Gravitational-wave Events with Las Cumbres Observatory (open, DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/aa910f) (DX)

A Neutron Star Binary Merger Model for GW170817/GRB 170817A/SSS17a (open, DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/aa91b3) (DX)

Previously: European Southern Observatory to Announce "Unprecedented Discovery" on Monday


Original Submission #1Original Submission #2Original Submission #3

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05, @07:20AM (7 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05, @07:20AM (#605530)

    If you ever want another penny for science funding, give proof that gravitational waves can improve high frequency trading.

    • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Tuesday December 05, @07:34AM

      by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday December 05, @07:34AM (#605534)

      If you ever want another penny for science funding, give proof that gravitational waves can improve high frequency trading.

      No delays in propagation, no screening by other masses, fastest speed between two points, make the spacetime work for you and squeeze it to the max.

      Need black holes or catastrophic falls to function: on the stock market, those are so common and/or so easy to engineer that you'll never run out of bandwidth capacity.

      Now, that's such a bleeding edge tech, I'll have to ask you to sign a NDA before examining your investment proposal.

    • (Score: 3, Touché) by takyon on Tuesday December 05, @11:39AM (1 child)

      by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Tuesday December 05, @11:39AM (#605580) Journal

      Detect earthquake, buy construction stocks?

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
      • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Tuesday December 05, @02:08PM

        by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday December 05, @02:08PM (#605622)

        Detect earthquake, buy construction stocks?

        Some definite sells before:
        - property funds
        - insurance
        - utilities

    • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday December 05, @03:20PM (3 children)

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday December 05, @03:20PM (#605662) Journal

      If you ever want another penny for science funding, give proof that gravitational waves can improve high frequency trading.

      Two things to note. First, this actually is a possible future improvement for HFT - it's not just a throwaway comment. If one can communicate through the Earth at the speed of light (in vacuum) then that's 20 ms faster than any speed of light path around the Earth (much less the current communication delay around Earth which is both longer path and slower than speed of light in vacuum). But I guess credible valuable technology spinoffs from HFT (which for example could include better tsunami warnings from large earthquakes in this hypothetical example) run counter to the narrative.

      Second, there are vast sums spent in science funding. There's no point to pretending that anyone is being miserly with that. If it's not doing the job you expect it to do, then maybe you ought to look at the efficiency of the projects being funded rather than ignorantly demand more money. But that again runs counter to the narrative.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05, @04:46PM (2 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05, @04:46PM (#605699)

        If you compare science funding to military funding you'll see we are being miserly with it.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05, @09:40PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05, @09:40PM (#605835)

          Just the most obvious here: earthquake research relies on military navigation satellites.

          Then computers, the internet...

        • (Score: 1) by khallow on Wednesday December 06, @06:53AM

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 06, @06:53AM (#606015) Journal

          If you compare science funding to military funding you'll see we are being miserly with it.

          Ok, what makes you think that? The consequences of an inadequate military are far more dire than the consequences of inadequate public funding of scientific research. In addition, the latter can always be funded by the private world when the public one fails to provide. It's also worth noting here that more was spend on R&D [fas.org] in 2015 than was spend on military spending [nationalpriorities.org].

          World military spending totaled more than $1.6 trillion in 2015.

          versus

          In 2015 (the most recent year for which comprehensive data are available), global R&D expenditures were $1.750 trillion.

  • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Tuesday December 05, @09:14AM (1 child)

    This guy has some aspects (his explanations) that are as loony as the alchemists, but still manages to come up with earthquake predictions that come true with remarkable accuracy:
      https://www.dutchsinse.com/
      https://www.youtube.com/user/dutchsinse/videos .
    I say "remarkable accuracy" because according to the USGS predicting earthquakes is impossible, so any accuracy at all would be better than expected. Well, I say "according to the USGS", but in the last year, the USGS has removed the "predicting earthquakes is impossible" line from their website, something which dutchsince is claiming some responsibility for. They're no friends, the USGS has put him and his channel on an official "Fake News" list.
    --
    I was worried about my command. I was the scientist of the Holy Ghost.
    • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday December 05, @03:24PM

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday December 05, @03:24PM (#605664) Journal
      Earthquake prediction may never be good enough to use for most emergency preparedness. The current sketchy bit certainly isn't. What's effective about the approach in the story is that using current technology, it can potentially detect an ongoing massive earthquake and gives the most warning possible under the situation.
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05, @11:54AM (6 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05, @11:54AM (#605583)

    Since when has gravity decided to obey speed limits? I recall several arguments making the case that the effects of gravity are instantaneous. Then again, these same effects were likely given by someone who thinks 95%+ of the mass of the universe is explained by "dark matter"...

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by takyon on Tuesday December 05, @12:01PM (2 children)

      by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Tuesday December 05, @12:01PM (#605584) Journal

      If it was instantaneous, then pointing telescopes at that recent neutron star collision "kilonova" (which was 130 million light years away) would have been pointless. Gravitational waves clearly obey the speed limit.

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @02:27AM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @02:27AM (#605954)

        Consider the source, people!

        • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Wednesday December 06, @05:13AM

          by maxwell demon (1608) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 06, @05:13AM (#605998) Journal

          The source of that comment was an Anonymous Coward. So what do I learn from that?

          --
          The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
    • (Score: 3, Informative) by Virindi on Tuesday December 05, @03:01PM

      by Virindi (3484) on Tuesday December 05, @03:01PM (#605648)

      Since when has gravity decided to obey speed limits?

      Since shortly after the universe was created! Clearly.

      But it was shown by experiment that gravity propagates at the speed of light in 2003. This result was predicted by general relativity 100 years ago.

      https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn3232-first-speed-of-gravity-measurement-revealed/ [newscientist.com]

    • (Score: 4, Funny) by Pino P on Tuesday December 05, @05:07PM

      by Pino P (4721) on Tuesday December 05, @05:07PM (#605709) Journal

      Why wouldn't the speed of heavy equal the speed of light?

    • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Wednesday December 06, @05:07AM

      by maxwell demon (1608) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 06, @05:07AM (#605994) Journal

      Yet another case where an attempted attack on science only reveals the attacker's lack of knowledge …

      --
      The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
  • (Score: 2) by urza9814 on Tuesday December 05, @09:48PM (4 children)

    by urza9814 (3954) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday December 05, @09:48PM (#605839) Journal

    Seismometers in China and South Korea picked up gravity signals immediately after the magnitude-9.1 Tohoku earthquake that devastated parts of Japan in 2011, Vallée and his colleagues report in Science on December 1. The signals appear as tiny accelerations on seismic-recording equipment, more than a minute before the seismic waves show up.

    So they can detect earthquakes a minute faster with this technique? But they still can't predict it, only detect it once it happens. So...does it really matter? If you could detect the earthquake just one minute BEFORE it starts, that would be kinda useful, because you could send a text alert and give people at least a couple seconds to try to get somewhere relatively safe. But if you're just detecting it already in progress, all you're going to do at that point is send in the emergency responders, and I don't see how one minute improvement is going to help much there. The ones in the area already know what's going on, and anyone you send in from outside is going to need some time to coordinate and just determine if they're needed at all. I wouldn't expect that to have a response time measured in minutes...so how much of an improvement is one extra minute?

    Then again, living in the northeast US I don't know much about earthquakes, so maybe I'm missing something? :)

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @02:57AM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @02:57AM (#605966)

      The way a seismograph is normally used is to detect seismic waves. The Tōhoku earthquake and the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake both happened offshore, where it isn't convenient to place seismographs. Also, earthquakes often happen deep within the Earth's crust. Seismic waves travel at 2 to 8 km/s; it takes time for them to reach the detectors. Any warning that is available "before the seismic waves show up" is useful. People can shelter, start to leave tsunami-prone areas, begin shutting down refineries and nuclear plants, break trains, etc.

      • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @04:31AM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @04:31AM (#605987)

        This caused the Fukushima disaster.

        Power at the site arrives via: nuclear generation, emergency diesel, and power lines

        Power at the site is needed for: running water pumps to prevent a meltdown

        When you "shut down" the plant, it continues to generate enough heat for a meltdown but not enough to run the turbines for power generation. Restarting within the same day isn't a safe option due to Xenon in the fuel rods; it slows the reaction but suddenly gets lost if the temperature rises, causing the reaction to get out of control.

        So as soon as you shut down, you come to depend on power from the power line and/or the emergency diesel. Both were wiped out by a tsunami. Had they not shut down, they could have just kept running.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 07, @12:19AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 07, @12:19AM (#606488)

          I was thinking of a loss-of-coolant accident (LOCA). A severe earthquake could cause a reactor vessel to crack. That may have happened at Fukushima Daiichi. A severe earthquake could also deform or dislodge reactor components so that the control rods could no longer be inserted (if I'm not mistaken, they were successfully inserted at Fukushima--and one reactor which melted down had been shut down days before the disaster). If you expect those things to happen, wouldn't you want to insert the control rods before the seismic waves arrive, to at least bring the reactor to a subcritical condition? Or perhaps, depending on the design, you could count on having a negative void coefficient so criticality would end as your coolant boiled off.

          Instead of shutting down, another response to an early earthquake warning could be to attempt to start the backup generators.

          Your suggestion to keep a reactor running normally during an earthquake is an interesting one, but it isn't commonly accepted, is it? I'm guessing that, had they done it at Fukushima, the result might have been one reactor (the one with the cracked reactor vessel) might have had a more severe melt-down, but the other two might have been saved.

    • (Score: 2, Informative) by khallow on Wednesday December 06, @06:57AM

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 06, @06:57AM (#606018) Journal

      But if you're just detecting it already in progress, all you're going to do at that point is send in the emergency responders, and I don't see how one minute improvement is going to help much there.

      A minute is more than enough to shut down natural gas pipelines and nuclear plants, prepare an ongoing medical surgery for a big earthquake, or drive an emergency vehicle to a safer location.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @03:27AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @03:27AM (#605976)

    Always with the negative waves...

  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by jasnw on Wednesday December 06, @05:44AM

    by jasnw (5719) on Wednesday December 06, @05:44AM (#606004)

    So, it takes incredibly high-precision specially-designed instruments to find gravitational wave signals from the collision of two black holes, and yet a couple of standard run-of-the-mill seismometers picked up gravitational waves from an earthquake? Why do I have a real hard time putting any faith in this analysis? My experience is that the earthquake precursor crowd is a largely a bunch of snake-oil types. My research field is ionospheric physics, and there is an ongoing battle between these 'oh look, there's an earthquake precursor' types looking at all kinds of ionospheric measurements and seeing precursors everywhere and people who know the limits of those measurements. Dig down deep enough, and it's people looking to keep their research funding alive or to tap into another source after the agency they've been fleecing catches on to their shenanigans.

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