National Geographic : 1989 May
Exploding stars and other violent cosmic events are thought to flood the uni verse with gravity waves. Rippling through space time at the speed of light, they briefly disturb every thing in their path. Too weak to detect so far, these waves create distortions smaller than the diameter of a single particle inside an atomic nucleus. fc PAINTINGBY NATIONALGEOGRAPHIC ARTISTWILLIAMH. BOND r4 Within earth's gravitational E field (D) you feel the effect of gravity by just standing still on a fixed surface (F). To experience weightless ness, you would have to free fall like a skydiver, who feels only air resistance (E). With this equivalence principleand his general ized theory, Einstein trans formed our understanding of the universe and its ori gins. Yet his theory has not been integratedwith quan tum mechanics, the math ematical languagefor theories of the.other funda mental forces of nature, and Einstein died searchingfor a still elusive unified theory.