Project brief - Einstein@home Explained
Project brief (Pb) is a segment of the Gridcoin Fireside where I will be talking about scientific projects apart of the BOINC network.
Now this isn't an investigation on the effects of general relativity on the orbital decay of the earth, it's a simple and super fun experience in learning about what's out there and what you could be supporting with just the click of a button!
Who am I?
I'm Delta! An Australian programmer, technologist, blockchain and cryptocurrency expert, and self-proclaimed physicist.
I like to communicate things to people in the simplest way possible and teach people about the most interesting things that this universe has to offer.
You can find me on Discord where I hang out in the Gridcoin chat.
What's happening this Fireside?
On June 27th I will be opening the Fireside with a short explanation of the BOINC project Einstein@home.
You remember how scientists were going crazy about two black holes colliding? Yeah, these are the guys that saw it!
What is Einstein@home?
Einstein@home is a BOINC project that aims to discover gamma-ray pulsars, binary radio pulsars and gravitational waves. So far they have discovered a lot as you can see in the above picture, all of the pink dots are pulsars in our view from earth.
Einstein@home collects data from a number of sources; radio telescopes (like SETI), the Fermi gamma-ray space telescope and a number of Laser Interferometer, Gravitational wave Observatories (LIGOs) around the world.
They collect their data as a bunch of noisy signals and store them for processing - and they have a lot of it!
By running Einstein@home on your computer, you can help sift through these signals and figure out if any of the observatories actually found anything. You can even find a pulsar and get published in a paper if you are lucky enough!
Most of what your computer will be doing is Fast Fourier Transforms (FFTs) as discussed in the previous Project brief. This allows your computer to find gamma ray bursts which look like they are from pulsars.
These are the things they are discovering most of the time, pulsars. Pulsar stands for "pulsating neutron star" which is a star (much like our sun) which has gone supernova, got squeezed down into ball about the size of a city and began spinning very, very fast. PBS Spacetime has a great video about them if you want to learn more.
Not only can Einstein@home detect these, but they can also watch them collide...
Meet LIGO, a facility with two long arms, about 3km in length each!
There are two facilities in the USA and one in Italy, and they work together to detect gravitational waves.
When two really big objects in space move about, they make gravitational waves. It's sort of like how when a boat goes through water, it creates waves and ripples in its wake, think of this but with the feeling of gravity.
Now you can't feel gravitational waves here on the earth because they are so weak. If you were to be hit by a gravitational wave, you'd only move the distance of about one ten-thousandth the width of a proton (that's almost one million, trillionth the size of a grain of rice)!
...And these observatories can detect that...
For your entertainment, here is an audio track of the sound that two black holes make when colliding.
And what exactly can we use these discovered pulsars for?
Navigation! That's right, when humanity is out deep in interstellar space, we can use pulsars to know our way around. Knowing where they are now and how fast each pulsar is spinning will help us in the event that we become an interstellar civilisation sometime in the future, and start building space ships that can travel at warp speed and allow us to ask Scotty to beam us up!
You might recall the image above, the plaque attached to the Pioneer 10 spacecraft. The lines on that plaque are actually 14 different pulsars and their rotational speed relative to our sun. So in the event that the craft is retrieved by aliens, they can somehow find us and greet us!
Interested in discovering pulsars with Einstein@home?
Don't have a good computer or want to donate your spare time?
Join Zooniverse, a site for volunteer science!
Solve puzzles and complete tasks that help real scientists solve real problems!