Printer Friendly

SCOTLAND THE WAVE; GENIUSES OUR LEADING LIGHTS How great thinkers in physics have gravitated to this nation and laid the building blocks for this century's most spectacular scientific discovery.


IT'S the biggest scientific discovery of the century and has helped prove one of Albert Einstein's greatest theories.

And it happened thanks to work carried out in the leafy west end of Glasgow.

This week, an international team of scientists unveiled the discovery of gravitational waves, which could change the way the world looks at space and time - and even lead to real hoverboards.

Scots physicists from the University of Glasgow have been right at the heart of the discovery, which has taken 45 years to come to fruition.

It's the latest example of scientists in Scotland at the cutting edge. In 2012, Edinburgh University's Dr Peter Higgs gave his name to the Higgs boson, the so-called "God particle", which explains where mass comes from.

That in turn followed the work of Scots scientists such as Kelvin, Maxwell and Napier, whose breakthroughs have shaped the modern world.

Glasgow University's professor of gravitational astrophysics and cosmology Martin Hendry explained how a long line of Scots created the foundations for the sci-fi style developments announced this week.

Logarithms John Napier, 1614 THE Edinburgh mathematician came up with the calculation method which is the basis for much modern maths and scientific equations, laying out his technique for massive calculations.

Prof Hendry said: "Maths underpins everything in physics and Napier's work was a key step in understanding the nature of numbers and how to do computations and calculations."

A particle with mass appeal Higgs boson particle Professor Peter Higgs, 1964 and 2012 HIGGS works in particle physics, the study of the building blocks of the universe.

In 1964, the Englishman theorised the existence of a field which could explain why scientific particles had mass.

For more than 40 years, Higgs and other scientists worked to prove the idea of this Higgs field.

In 2012 at the CERN large hadron collider in Switzerland, a particle was discovered which fulfilled the theory - the Higgs boson.

It was nicknamed the God particle because it was so tricky to prove but could have massive implications and benefits for science.

Higgs's incredible work has put Edinburgh University at the forefront of theoretical Gravitational waves University of Glasgow, UNTIL now, scientists had to use the electromagnetic spectrum to measure space and the stars.

But almost 100 years ago Albert Einstein theorised that you could measure gravity itself as a way to study the universe.

His idea was proved this week when the researchers, including a Glasgow-based team, measured gravitational waves coming from the collision of two distant black holes.

1964 the study of Using lasers, they proved that everything leaves a trail of gravity, which can the explain why 2016 now be measured. It's thought future scientists may be able to turn off gravity - Back to the Future hoverboards all round.

Professor Hendry said: "There is a lot of stuff out there that doesn't give off any light but has gravity and we can now see the dark side of the universe.

"Maxwell established that you could have radio waves and people initially didn't think there was any practical use but look what impact that had in later years.

"It might take us a few hundred years, but I've got every confidence that we will work out a way to use gravitational waves - even finding a way to manipulate gravity and create anti-gravity devices."

Ideas that inspired Einstein Radio waves and electromagnetic fields James Clerk Maxwell, 1865 THE theories of Edinburgh-born Maxwell were credited by Einstein as laying the foundations for his work. The Scot was credited as being only second to Isaac Newton in terms of the importance of his work at the time.

Prof Hendry said: "In Einstein's key paper on special relativity, he namechecks Maxwell in the first sentence. It's Einstein trying to make sure that Maxwell's equations make sense."

NAME-CHECK Maxwell Thermodynamics Lord Kelvin, 1854 BELFAST-born William Thomson took the name of the Glasgow river when he was made a peer for long service at Glasgow University. He set up Britain's first physics lab there and made leaps in the interaction of heat and energy.

Prof Hendry added: "Kelvin fits into this story in interesting ways. He helped us understand what heat and temperature really are, yet he didn't understand how the Sun can produce the energy it does."



THEORY Einstein was right


RIPPLE Gravity causes waves in space-time
COPYRIGHT 2016 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2016 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 13, 2016
Previous Article:Davidson calls on Osbo to ease oil crisis.
Next Article:'Useless' insult can get Labour going; Record. View.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters