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Q & A: meaning of gravity wave observation

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Most recent answer: 02/15/2016
Q:
Does the discovery of gravitational waves confirm that gravitational force is an emergent phenomenon and not a fundamental force of nature?. Does it give any clue about the existence of gravitons or not as predicted in the standard model of physics?
- Ali Qasim (age 28)
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
A:

No, it doesn't say anything about whether gravity emerges from laws at some deeper level. It just says the laws (General Relativity) at the known level work well. Likewise it doesn't say anything directly about how gravity connects to quantum mechanics.

The claim (incorrect, as it turned out) from a couple years ago about seeing primordial gravitational waves would have been different. Since the magnitude of those primordial waves depends on the quantum mechanical Planck's constant, they would have confirmed the existence of quantum gravitons. If perhaps some of the experiments now under way manage to pick up a smaller version of those primordial waves, then we'll be back to having a sort of observation of quantum gravity.

Mike W.


(published on 02/15/2016)

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