NASA has just announced the results from its Gravity Probe B mission.  The mission found data that support the hypothesized phenomena of frame dragging.  This effect is the result of vortex-like distortion of space-time around the earth resulting from the earths rotation. The earth distorts space-time owing to its mass and this effect is further shaped by the earth’s rotation.  The effect of this is minute.

Scientists and engineers assembled 4 ultra-precise niobium coated spheres which when spun individually in a hard vacuum and at liquid helium temperatures, produced a highly stable superconducting gyroscope. This superconducting gyroscope produces a weak magnetic field which can be monitored with a SQUID.  Wobble induced by frame dragging would be detected as changes in the alignment of the gyro’s magnetic axis relative to a star in the background. 

All of this is super precise work and a great deal of credit goes to the all those involved.  It is an amazing experiment. It is a true wonder.

Advertisements