LIGO discovers gravitational waves

A friend of mine, a theoretical physicist, has been telling me for over 30 years that we will never discover a magnetic monopole, proton decay – or the graviton. So far, he appears to have been correct, but now scientists at LIGO have detected a gravitational wave that resulted from the collision and amalgamation of 2 black holes. The news was so exciting that the server at Physical Review Letters supposedly crashed earlier today. I got a copy of the article but, as Shakespeare might have put it, much of it was written in Greek. The 2 graphs, shown in the Times article, look mighty convincing, though.

The graviton, if it exists, is the quantized particle that carries the gravitational field, much as the photon carries the electromagnetic field. I am not, alas, a theoretical physicist, so I do not know whether a gravitational wave necessarily implies a graviton. Unless I am mistaken, any classical (nonrelativistic) wave such as an electromagnetic wave or even a sound wave can be quantized, but I have no idea whether a (relativistic) gravity wave can necessarily be quantized. Perhaps some reader can shed light on the question.

In the meantime, I give my friend a tentative score of 2.5/3: No one has yet definitively discovered a magnetic monopole, and the lifetime of the proton has not been definitively measured.

Like a commenter on an earlier thread, I am very curious indeed to hear the creationists’ reaction to this stunning news.