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Space Science

Satellite To Test Relatively 33

dude_from_munich writes "Einstein proposed in 1916 that space and time form a structure that can be curved by the presence of a body. Scientists are finally planning to put Einstein's theory of relativity to test after a project delay of 44 years."
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Satellite To Test Relatively

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  • by p4ul13 ( 560810 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @09:47AM (#8768473) Homepage
    First post; but only because I'm moving slower than you.
  • by Jonas the Bold ( 701271 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @09:48AM (#8768477)
    That this is exactly the same as this [] story.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...that it tests relatively well!
  • NASA Gravity Probe Set for Launch
    On April 3rd, 2004 with 245 comments /0 3/1716234&mode=thread&tid=134&tid=160
  • What if it fails (Score:5, Interesting)

    by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @10:03AM (#8768648) Homepage Journal
    Supposed the experiment runs exactly as planned, there are no apparent flaws with any of the equipment, no problems with the theory behind the experiment... and the results contradict the theory of relativity.

    What happens then?

    • by lambent ( 234167 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @10:11AM (#8768720)
      We finally get an excuse to throw that einstein bastard out on his ear. I don't know about you, but i'm getting pretty tired of that know-it-all being right ALL the freaking time.
    • Buildings collapse, bridges fall, the earth crashes into the sun.

      Shit like that.
    • You mean like when the Viking probe was sent to Mars with a test for life, and the result was yes, there is life on Mars? They'll simply say, "The test was broken. It must be broken becuase the result was wrong".

      Which means performing the test was meaningless.
    • The experiment is not to see if it's there, but to quantify it more precisely.
    • What happens if the results contradict Relativity?

      First they double check and triple check and quadruple check the results.
      If those results are consistantly confirmed, then we celebrate.

      We *know* that there must be some theory beyond Relativity - a theory to explain and predict the things we cannot currently explain or predict. The "problem" is that Relativity is "too perfect". Relativity has been like a perfectly smooth glass wall - it gives absolutely no crack or crevice or clue to climb beyond it. What
  • by c.r.o.c.o ( 123083 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @10:15AM (#8768755)
    As /. keeps prooving several times every day, time warps happen all the time.

    This [] is just one example, but I'm sure many more can be found without launching the probe...
  • Eddington's proof (Score:5, Informative)

    by jedigeek ( 102443 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @10:19AM (#8768816) Journal
    As usual the BBC's article is scant on details. There's no mention of Arthur Eddington's (1919) proof of relativity which proved gravity caused light to bend. However, 40 5091215.htm

    Is more interesting.
    • Well ... he saw what relativity predicted you would see. One good explanation for this result is that relativity is a correct description of what's going on in the universe. But that's only one explanation. A natural one, to be sure, and his experiment certainly counts as a nice test of the empirical consequences of relativity, but it's a defeasible inference from Eddington's results to the claim that gravity causes light to bend.

      Why yes, I am a pedant.
  • Relatively?!?!?! (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    What the hell is 'relatively'? And what does it have to do with Einstein? Is this some unknown postulate about his family?

    Or perhaps you meant RELATIVITY?
    • \Rel"a*tive*ly\, adv. In a relative manner; in relation or respect to something else; not absolutely. Consider the absolute affections of any being as it is in itself, before you consider it relatively. --I. Watts.
    • Oh my God. You don't know? Unbelievable. I guess I have to tell you.

      Albert Einstein was a great scientist who lived long ago. He had two theories, the General Theory of Relatively and the Special Theory of Relatively. Later on he married his cousin.

  • by aminorex ( 141494 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @12:51PM (#8770476) Homepage Journal
    The article as phrased suggests that GTR is hitherto unconfirmed by observational data. That is not the case: The aspects of the General Theory of Relativity which are addressed by this experiment are consistent with experimental data for the perihelion of Mercury which actually predated [] and motivated the General Theory, and are confirmed every day by gravitational lensing effects used very practically by astronomers, as recently reported here on slashdot [].

    It's a popular Senior or Graduate physics exercise to design experiments demonstrating GTR -- and a somewhat more ambitious exercise to perform them. This one is notably primarily for being bloody expensive and having blown it's schedule by such a honking big margin.

    • Not only has it been confirmed many times, but it's even been confirmed by satellite. Take a look here [] for an interesting article which explains how the GPS satellite system must correct for relativity, and how it does so (and in doing so verifies the time-dialation postulate of Einstein's theories).

      Of course, the GPS system is not anywhere near the first proof of this or many other relativistic phenomena; atomic clocks on board jetliners can test whether gravity affects the speed of a clock (it does) and

      • cloud chamber, yours for not more than a few million dollars

        How to Build a Cloud Chamber []

        You can probably scavenge common felt and tape and a slide projector etc for free. You can buy pure (not 70%) isopropyl alcohol for about $7.60 [], and Dry Ice [] for probably $20 or less. I can pick up dry ice locally for $10. The issue with dry ice is that it will only last a day or so unless you get a huge block. I had a $40 block last 3 or 4 days.

        Dry Ice is a real blast for parties, but at -109.3F / -78.5C you freez
    • Read the rest of the article, please. The experiment isn't intended to "confirm" GTR. If it were solely to confirm GTR, it would have to be one of the most redundant scientific experiments performed since the last time someone failed to demonstrate the Ether field. The more important observation is "frame dragging", which hasn't been directly observed before because we've never been able to observe an object large enough for it to occur from close enough to detect it. We've been making assumptions about fra

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