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To the Edge with Einstein: video script

Still image from movie.

A supermassive black hole is thought to lurk inside the core of this galaxy. Relentlessly its intense gravitation sucks in stars, gas and all nearby matter. Even light cannot escape its overwhelming grip.

But do black holes really exist? If so, what kind of objects are they and how do they arise? Answers to these questions could further confirm that essential foundation of modern cosmology: Einstein's Theory of General Relativity

The fact is that in some respects Einstein's famous theory remains largely untested. Its full equations are so complex, no one has totally solved them for all conditions; its most dramatic prediction, that black holes must exist, remains unconfirmed.

Movie thumbnails.

At NCSA University of Illinois gravitation scientists, in collaboration with other leading research teams, have taken up this "Grand Challenge" --in both physics and cosmology -- by attemping to solve the Einstein Equations numerically, thus giving rise to the field of Numerical Relativity.

Progress in Numerical Relativity demands powerful computational resources. Coupled to tools for scientific visualization, including virtual reality, intensive calculations enable the scientists to study how a black hole might behave when disturbed by gravitation or hypothetical gravitational wave, or what happens when two black holes collide.

Though predicted by General Relativity, gravitational waves seen here in simulation have never been detected.

The Illinois gravitation group and their collaborators aim to develop comprehensive, three-dimensional simulations of black hole behavior amd explore new ways to visualize such data. The results will enable new, Earth-based gravity wave detectors to pinpoint and interpret the elusive waves by the end of the century. For it's these oscillations that could not only provide physical proof that black holes exist but also further confirm Einstein's theory.

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Copyright 1995: Board of Trustees, University of Illinois

NCSA. Last modified April 19th, 1995