‘Indian gravitational waves observatory will be best in the world’ | mumbai news | Hindustan Times
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‘Indian gravitational waves observatory will be best in the world’

Gravitational waves were discovered last year at a laboratory in Germany

mumbai Updated: Dec 17, 2016 00:16 IST
Musab Qazi
Participants at the IIT-B Tech Fest examine a biometric hand  on Friday.
Participants at the IIT-B Tech Fest examine a biometric hand on Friday.(Prashant Waydande/HT)

Scientists working on the development of a gravitational wave detecting observatory in India, the fifth such facility in the world, said it will be the most sensitive gravitational wave detecting observatory.

Gravitational waves, whose existence was first predicted by Albert Einstein a century ago, were discovered last year at a laboratory in Germany. Along with electromagnetic waves, which are responsible for wireless communication, and mechanical waves, which carry sound, gravitational waves are the third type of waves and are likely to help scientists know more about the universe.

Speaking at a panel discussion on the first day of Indian Institute of Technology Bombay’s (IIT-B) annual technology extravaganza TechFest, Bruce Allen, managing director Albert Einstein Institute Hannover and one of the scientists responsible for the discovery, described the breakthrough as ‘the most important scientific discovery of last year’. He said that the Laser Inferometer Gravitational-waves Observatory (LIGO) India, alongside observatories in Germany, United States, and Italy, will help detect cosmic gravitational waves, revealing aspects of space that are still unknown.

“The need for an Indian LIGO is well justified. Each observatory is different and uses a different technology. We will put the mistakes of US detectors to rest while designing LIGO India. The country’s unique location will help detect gravitational sources more accurately,” said Rana Adhikari, a professor at California Institute of Technology, who is involved in the development of LIGO India.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the department of atomic energy and department of science & technology in India and the National Science Foundation of US to develop the observatory in India. Aundh in Hingoli district is one of the preferred sites for the project.

While the detection of waves helps know more about cosmic phenomena such as collision of black holes, the scientists are yet to find any practical application for gravitational waves. they said that the tools and equipment being developed to detect these waves will have wide applications.

“It’s a curiosity driven scientific study. But it will reap a good monetary pay-off for the country in future and will develop an economy of its own,” said Adhikari. He said that the tools being developed for the study could be used in data transfer and even building better cup holders.

Meanwhile, Allen said that the scientists have been trying to discover gravitational waves for more than 50 years. “There has been a continuous effort to see the universe through different tools. The discovery will let us discover parts of the universe that still unknown,” he said.

The first day of IIT-B’s TechFest, billed as the largest science and technology festival in Asia, saw lower turnout compared to last year. According to the organisers, around 35,000 people visited the Powai campus on Friday, down from the footfall of 45,000 people on the first day of the festival last year. The organisers said that many students from the University of Mumbai (MU) didn’t turn up due to the on going semester examinations. They are hoping for a better turnout over the weekend at the three-day festival.

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