Facebook Twitter 新浪微博 Instagram YouTube Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016

China to study gravitational waves

By Kou Jie (Global Times)    09:42, February 14, 2016

File photo shows the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) in Livingston, Louisiana, the United States. U.S. scientists said Thursday they have detected the existence of gravitational waves, which were predicted by Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity 100 years ago. (Xinhua/Caltech/MIT/LIGO Lab)

Three satellites to be launched over the next 15 - 20 years

A new gravitational waves research project is awaiting governmental approval as China steps up its efforts to study the phenomenon, after a team of US scientists announced their historic discovery of gravitational waves on Thursday.

Tianqin, China's domestic gravitational waves project, was initiated by Guangzhou-based Sun Yat-sen University in July 2015. It has already made progress on some key technologies, Li Miao, dean of the Institute of Astronomy and Space Science at Sun Yat-sen University, told the Global Times.

According to Li, Tianqin will be carried out in four stages over the next 15 to 20 years and will include the launch of three high-orbit satellites to detect gravitational waves.

As the project awaits governmental approval, an astronomy observatory and a new lab occupying more than 10,000 square meters will be built on Fenghuang Mountain in Zhuhai, Guangdong Province.

The US-based Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) made an announcement on Thursday confirming that it had detected gravitational waves on September 14, 2015.

The discovery fulfilled the last prediction of Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity and opens an unprecedented new window to the cosmos.

However, Li noted that LIGO's discovery of the phenomenon is an isolated event that requires support from further experiments.

Despite China's many achievements, the country still lags behind in gravitational wave research, as it has a relatively short history of scientific research compared to countries such as the US, experts said, noting that China suffers an acute shortage of specialists.

"We will deepen technical cooperation and professional resources exchange with prominent research institutes such as MIT, in addition to attracting foreign specialists," Li said.

"China needs to make more efforts in theoretical physics to become a leading nation in science and technology. Research on gravitational waves has scientific significance, [contributing to] the detection of mineral or water resource distribution and propelling the development of technologies such as laser physics and space technology," Li added.

Research on foundational scientific theories in China still has a long way to go. The country only spent 5 percent of its scientific research funding on basic research, which is much lower than the international average of 10 percent, Cao Jun, a research fellow at the Institute of High Energy Physics under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told the Global Times. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)
(Editor:Kong Defang,Bianji)

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