VAKT materials: Square or rectangular cloth at least 2 ft by 1ft (or larger). Balls of varying size and weight. One or two long ropes or jump ropes. Internet/screen to watch videos.
What if I told you that I had traveled back in time to do this lesson with you? A visitor from the future. Or perhaps, I am an INTERGALACTIC (relating to the spaces between galaxies) space/time traveler jumping between galaxies and centuries UNINHIBITED (free, unrestrained). Traveling through space and time could get COMPLICATED fast! It might seem FAR FETCHED (doubtful, improbable, unlikely), but due to a recent SCIENTIFIC discovery, journeys through space and time may be more ATTAINABLE (able to be accomplished) than you think.
Spell: VISITOR FUTURE JOURNEY
What word means relating to the spaces between galaxies? INTERGALACTIC
Traveling through space and time could get ______ fast! COMPLICATED
Due to a recent ________ discovery, journeys through time may be closer than you might otherwise think. SCIENTIFIC
According to this paragraph, attainable means what? ABLE TO BE ACCOMPLISHED
What is another word for uninhibited? FREE, UNRESTRAINED
What is a synonym for far-fetched? DOUBTFUL, IMPROBABLE, UNLIKELY
Traveling through ______ could get complicated fast. SPACE, TIME
What galaxy do we live in? MILKY WAY GALAXY
What other tv shows or movies about space/time travel are you familiar with? BACK TO THE FUTURE, STAR TREK, ABOUT TIME
If you could travel through time, what time period would you go to and why?
VAKT: Point to the picture of the TARDIS
BHNS stands for Black Hole NEUTRON Star, and a MERGER is a combining of two separate things. A neutron star is formed when a massive star runs out of fuel and collapses. In 1916 ALBERT EINSTEIN predicted the existence of GRAVITATIONAL Waves and published his theory of general relativity. While his previous theory of special relativity showed that space and time are intertwined, his theory of general relativity changes the FUNDAMENTAL (foundational, primary, basic) way we think about gravity. Instead of just being an invisible force that draws objects to each other, gravity is a WARPING or bending of space. The greater the mass of an object, the more it bends the space around it.
Spell: STAR FUEL WAVES
What is a combining of two separate things? MERGER
What is formed when a massive star runs out of fuel and collapses? A NEUTRON STAR
Einstein’s theory of general relativity predicted the existence of what kind of waves? GRAVITATIONAL
Einstein wrote the theory of _____ relativity. SPECIAL, GENERAL
According to Einstein’s theory of general relativity, gravity is a ______ of space. WARPING, BENDING
What is another word for fundamental? FOUNDATIONAL, PRIMARY, BASIC
What is the name of another famous physicist you’re familiar with? STEPHEN HAWKING, ISAAC NEWTON, MARIE CURIE
What year did Einstein publish his theory of general relativity? 1916
What is a discovery you would predict happening 100 years or more from now?
VAKT: Have students hold two corners of the cloth while you hold the other two corners (might have to start with the cloth lying flat on a table). Place a weighted ball in the center of the cloth and then move the cloth off the table. Hold taught and observe how the weight of the ball bends the cloth. Can try with varying sizes and weights of balls.
A news release dated February 11, 2015, entitled Gravitational Waves Detected 100 Years After Einstein’s Prediction begins like this, “For the first time, scientists have observed ripples in the fabric of spacetime called gravitational waves, arriving at the earth from a CATACLYSMIC (a sudden violent event on a massive scale) event in the distant universe. This confirms a major prediction of Albert Einstein’s 1915 general theory of relativity and opens an UNPRECEDENTED (unrivaled, unmatched) new window onto the cosmos.” (Keyword emphasis and definitions added by me). These ripples were detected by two separate LIGO, which stands for Laser INTERFEROMETER Gravitational-wave Observatory.
Spell: NEWS TIME EVENT
According to the title of this news release, gravitational ____ was detected 100 years after Einstein’s prediction. WAVES
What ripples in spacetime were caused by a _______ event? CATACLYSMIC
The observations of gravitational waves open what? AN UNPRECEDENTED NEW WINDOW ONTO THE COSMOS
What did scientists observe for the first time? RIPPLES, RIPPLES IN THE FABRIC OF SPACETIME, GRAVITATIONAL WAVES
What is a synonym for unprecedented? Unrivaled, Unmatched
What year was this news release published? 2015
On September 14th, 2015, at 5:51 AM Eastern Daylight Time, a gravitational ripple was observed by the two LIGO in AMERICA. Tucked in LIVINGSTON, LOUISIANA, in a huge, humid, LOBLOLLY pine forest, and NESTLED in HANFORD, WASHINGTON, in the COLUMBIA Basin region, both LIGO agreed spacetime and our view of the universe was forever changed. From the data they observed, scientists predicted that the black holes for this event were about 29 and 36 times the mass of the sun and that the event occurred 1.3 billion years ago.
Spell: TWO LIGO SUN
On September 14th, a gravitational ripple was observed by the two LIGO in ______? AMERICA
Due to the observations of the LIGO, spacetime and our view of the ______ were forever changed. UNIVERSE
One of the LIGO is located in the _______ Basin region. COLUMBIA
What state is the LIGO located in? LOUISIANA, WASHINGTON
What kind of pine forest is the LIGO located in? HUGE, HUMID, LOBLOLLY
What time was the gravitational wave observed on September 14th? 5:51 AM EASTERN DAYLIGHT TIME
The black holes were 29 and ____ times the mass of the sun. 36
How long ago do scientists believe this event took place? 1.3 BILLION YEARS AGO
According to nobelprize.org, in 2017, the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to RAINER WEISS, BARRY C. BARISH, and KIP S. THORNE “for decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves.” The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory is a project including more than 1,000 researchers from more than 20 countries. This COLLABORATION (action of working with someone to produce something) fusing great minds from all over the world achieved something TANGIBLE (concrete, actual, real) in 2015, and it is only the beginning of a greater understanding of the Universe.
Spell: NOBEL LASER UNIVERSE
The LIGO is a project including more than 1,000 ______? RESEARCHERS
A _______ is the action of working with someone to produce something. COLLABORATION
Who won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2017? RAINER WEISS, BARRY C. BARISH, KIP S. THORNE
What is another word for tangible? CONCRETE, ACTUAL, REAL
Over _____ researchers collaborate on the LIGO project. 1,000
The researchers working on the LIGO come from over ___ different countries. 20
If you were to win a Nobel Prize one day, what would it be for?
VAKT: One person pretends to be the “cataclysmic event in the distant past” (two black holes merging or a black hole and a neutron star merging” and the other person pretends to be Earth in the present day. Each person holds one end of the jump ropes. Explain that when you say go, you’ll both move your arms up and down to make waves through imaginary spacetime.
The first observed gravitational waves in 2015 were from two merging black holes, but in January 2020, on two separate occasions, gravitational waves were observed from a black hole and a neutron star merging. As mentioned, a neutron star is formed when a star runs out of fuel and COLLAPSES. These stars must be between 1 and 3 solar masses. When the core of the star collapses, every PROTON and ELECTRON is crushed together, forming NEUTRONS. The newly formed neutrons halt the collapse leaving a neutron star behind. The neutron star is the densest object known like the mass of the sun shoved into the size of a city. One sugar cube of a neutron star would weigh as much as an entire mountain here on Earth!
Spell: FUEL SOLAR HALT
A neutron star is formed when a star runs out of fuel and _______? COLLAPSES
The neutron star is the most _____ object known. DENSE
What is crushed when the core of a neutron star collapses? PROTONS, ELECTRONS
What year were BHNS gravitational waves observed? 2020
VAKT: watch this (31-second) video of a simulation of a black hole merging with a neutron star – https://www.ligo.caltech.edu/video/ligo20210629v1
Imagine you have no ears. Only eyes. Everything you know about the world must be PERCEIVED through sight. Prior to the discovery of gravitational waves, scientists depended on ELECTROMAGNETIC radiation (visible light, x-rays, microwaves, radio waves) to study the universe. All of these are related to each other. Gravitational waves, however, are completely different. It’s like someone invented ears. Now we can detect VIBRATIONS in that air that we would never have known existed before. The 21st-century discovery of gravitational waves has brought us to the brink of a previously unexplored frontier.
Spell: EARS EYES DETECT
Prior to the discovery of gravitational waves, scientists depended on _______ radiation to study the universe. ELECTROMAGNETIC
Now, with gravitational waves, it’s like we can detect _____ in the air that we never would have known existed before. VIBRATIONS
What is a type of electromagnetic radiation? VISIBLE LIGHT, X-RAYS, MICROWAVES, RADIO WAVES
To finish out this exploration of black holes, neutron stars, spacetime, and the possibility to learn secrets from the distant past, let’s hear from a couple of experts on the subject. Keyword emphasis added.
“This detection is the beginning of a new era: The field of gravitational wave astronomy is now a reality,” says GABRIELA GONZÁLEZ, professor of physics and astronomy at LOUISIANA State University.
“With this discovery, we humans are embarking on a marvelous new quest: the quest to explore the warped side of the universe—objects and phenomena that are made from warped spacetime. Colliding black holes and gravitational waves are our first beautiful examples,” says Kip Thorne, MIT, winner of the 2017 Nobel Prize for Physics
Spell: ERA ASTRONOMY STATE
Where is Gabriela González a professor? LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITY
With this discovery, we humans are embarking on a marvelous new ____? QUEST
What is Gabriela González a professor of? PHYSICS, ASTRONOMY
Pretend you are preparing to travel to another galaxy or in your own time machine to the future. What would your time machine look like? What words of wisdom would you want to send through spacetime? What two items would you bring with you on the trip?
VAKTIVITY: Watch this video (3:11) about the physics of the book and movie A Wrinkle in Time