Wednesday, October 7, 2009

What is Einstein@Home?

     Very basically, Einstein@Home is looking for pulsars using data from the LIGO gravitational wave detector and, I think, sometimes, radio data from the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.  The Arecibo Observatory is a giant freaking radio telescope (think satellite dish carved into a mountain valley,) a gravitational wave detector is two long buildings, exactly the same length, with mirrors at both ends that a laser bounces between, and a pulsar is a
super dense core of an exploded star that spins very rapidly and, sometimes, puts out pulses of radio waves (that would be a radio pulsar that the giant satellite dish is used to detect.)  That's all pretty close to right.  Close enough.  Anyway, these guys are looking for pulsars, and that's pretty cool.  But let's get back to the LIGO for a little bit.  They have these two long buildings and they bounce a laser back and forth in them and the measure how much laser light makes it back.  If the buildings are the same length, then all the laser light will make it back.  If something actually STRETCHES THE BUILDINGS, even a minuscule amount, like, say, the intense waves of gravity cause by the twisting of space-time its self, the way a pulsar will, then some of the laser light doesn't make it back to the right spot.  So, even though you didn't know it, the planet is being warped by waves of gravity!!!  Actually, it's not that big of a deal.  The Earth its self twists the very fabric of space, just not as much or as violently.  (Can you tell I really like astrophysics?) 

     By the way, if you feel anything in the above paragraph is incorrect; close enough.  If you doubt anything in the above paragraph; go look it up yourself.  If you think I'm a giant astrophysics geek, check out my review of "Casablanca," the greatest movie ever made, and discover that I'm also a movie freak!


     Below is the original Einstein@home information from the old TEAM: Brian web site.  Any information found there is likely to be old, out of date, or no longer valid.  Like horoscopes, the information should be used for entertainment purposes only.  It has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and is  not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.Reader discretion is advised.  

Well, according to their own web site:
Einstein@home is a program that uses your computer's idle time to search for spinning neutron stars (also called pulsars) using data from the LIGO and GEO gravitational wave detectors. Einstein@home is a World Year of Physics 2005 project supported by the American Physical Society (APS) and by a number of international organizations.
You put a program on your computer that receives data from Einstein@Home. When you are not using your computer, your computer analyzes the data and sends the results back to Einstein@Home. Basically, they are looking for pulsars. Why? I don't know!? What do I look like, a astrophysics geek? NO! I'm bored! If you want to know why, check out the about TEAM: Brian.
Why do they call it Einstein@Home? Well, the @Home part comes from the software that they use and the fact that it is a distributed network kind of thing. Well, not really. It really comes from the fact that a SETI project called SETI@Home first came up with the idea and created the software to do it. (I think they did, anyway. Anyway, they were the 'killer app' of distributed networks.) The other projects that use the software just kind of pick up on the @Home thing. The Einstein part comes from..... well...... I don't know!? What do I look like, a astrophysics geek? NO! I'm bored! If you want to know why, check out the about TEAM: Brian.
Anyway, check out the Einstein@Home website for more info on them.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your thoughts?