space-time

From Bloomberg Quicktake, Feb. 23. 2021: In this video, Fermilab scientist Don Lincoln adds his perspective on time dilation and how it affects time and gravity. This precise measurement of time will allow scientists to measure plates, large movements deep below earth’s surface and climate change.

Fermilab scientist and University of Chicago professor of astronomy and astrophysics Craig Hogan gives perspective on how the Holometer program aims at a tiny scale — the Planck scale — to help answer one of the universe’s most basic questions: Why does everything appear to happen at definite times and places? He contextualizes the results and offers optimism for future researchers.

General relativity makes many incredible predictions, but one of the most amazing is how matter can warp space. Rapidly moving heavy objects like black holes can even cause ripples in space-time called gravitational waves. In this 13-minute episode of Subatomic Stories, Fermilab scientist Don Lincoln tells us all about them.

What is time?

“What’s done cannot be undone.” Look to Shakespeare for a great quote. He had Lady Macbeth murmur these simple but profound words to herself. Who does not wish they had done something differently? But the past is past. A broken teacup will not put itself back together. A dissolved sugar cube will not reassemble itself.

Imagine an instrument that can measure motions a billion times smaller than an atom that last a millionth of a second. Fermilab’s Holometer is currently the only machine with the ability to take these very precise measurements of space and time, and recently collected data has improved the limits on theories about exotic objects from the early universe.

The Fermilab Holometer has reached its design luminosity, building up more than 1 kilowatt of infrared laser power stored in a 40-meter-long Michelson interferometer. This light intensity corresponds to more than 10 billion trillion photons per second hitting the interferometer optics. It also allows scientists to measure the optics’ positions to a resolution 1,000 times smaller than the size of a proton.