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Prof. Nergis Mavalvala, dean of the MIT School of Science, and postdoc Victoria Xu speak with Nature reporter Davide Castelvecchi about the upgrades to the LIGO gravitational wave detectors that have significantly increased their sensitivity. “The improvements should allow the facility to pick up signals of colliding black holes every two to three days, compared with once a week or so during its previous run." 

The Conversation

Upgrades made to the LIGO gravitational wave detectors “will significantly boost the sensitivity of LIGO and should allow the facility to observe more-distant objects that produce smaller ripples in spacetime,” writes Pennsylvania State University Prof. Chad Hanna in a piece for The Conversation.


Gizmodo reporter Isaac Schultz writes that researchers from MIT, Caltech and elsewhere have found that “quantum systems can imitate wormholes, theorized shortcuts in spacetime, in that the systems allow the instantaneous transit of information between remote locations.” Grad student Alexander Zlokapa explains that: “We performed a kind of quantum teleportation equivalent to a traversable wormhole in the gravity picture. To do this, we had to simplify the quantum system to the smallest example that preserves gravitational characteristics so we could implement it.”

Popular Science

Physicists from MIT and elsewhere have created a small “wormhole” effect between two quantum systems on the same processor and were able to send a signal through it, reports Charlotte Hu for Popular Science. This new model is a “way to study the fundamental problems of the universe in a laboratory setting,” writes Hu. 


Researchers at MIT and elsewhere have created a holographic wormhole using Google’s Sycamore quantum computer, reports Sarah Wells for Vice. “The researchers created an entangled state (a quantum mechanical phenomena where distant particles can still communicate with each other) between two halves of a quantum computer and sent a message in between,” writes Wells. “This message was scrambled as it entered the system and, through entanglement, unscrambled on the other side.”

The New York Times

A team of researchers, including scientists from MIT, “simulated a pair of black holes in a quantum computer and sent a message between them through a shortcut in space-time called a wormhole,” reports Dennis Overbye for The New York Times. The development is another “step in the effort to understand the relation between gravity, which shapes the universe, and quantum mechanics, which governs the subatomic realm of particles,” writes Overbye.


Prof. Nergis Mavalvala, dean of the MIT School of Science, speaks with Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai about what inspired her love of science, how to inspire more women to pursue their passions and her hopes for the next generation of STEM students. “Working and building with my hands has always been something I’ve enjoyed doing,” says Mavalvala. “But I’ve also always been interested in the fundamental questions of why the universe is the way it is. I couldn’t have been more delighted when I discovered there was such a thing as experimental physics.”

National Public Radio (NPR)

NPR’s Nell Greenfieldboyce spotlights how LIGO has helped to usher in a “big astronomy revolution” that is allowing scientists to listen to the universe. “The exciting thing is when you've got a new instrument, you know, a brand-new way of looking at things,” says Greenfieldboyce, “you don't know what you might detect that you never even thought of because until now, you just weren't able to look at the universe in this way.”

Popular Mechanics

Researchers from MIT and other institutions have been able to observationally confirm one of Stephen Hawking’s theorems about black holes, measuring gravitational waves before and after a black hole merger to provide evidence that a black hole’s event horizon can never shrink, reports Caroline Delbert for Popular Mechanics. “This cool analysis doesn't just show an example of Hawking's theorem that underpins one of the central laws affecting black holes,” writes Delbert, “it shows how analyzing gravitational wave patterns can bear out statistical findings.”


Prof. Nergis Mavalvala, Dean of the School of Science, speaks with Becky Ferreira of Motherboard’s “Space Show” about LIGO’s 2015 discovery of gravitational waves and what researchers in the field have learned since then. “Every one of these observations tells us a little bit more about how nature has assembled our universe,” says Mavalvala. “Really, in the end, the question we're asking is: ‘How did this universe that we observe come about?”

United Press International (UPI)

UPI reporter Brooks Hays writes that LIGO researchers have cooled a human-scale object to a near standstill. "One of the questions that we might be able to answer is: 'Why do large objects not naturally appear in quantum states?' There are various conjectures for why that might be; some say that gravity -- which acts strongly on larger objects -- might be responsible," explains Prof. Vivishek Sudhir. "We now have a system where some of these conjectures can be experimentally tested.”


LIGO researchers have nearly frozen the motion of atoms across four mirrors used to detect ripples in space-time, reports Isaac Schultz for Gizmodo. “We could actually use the same capability of LIGO to do this other thing, which is to use LIGO to measure the random jiggling motion of these mirrors—use that information which we have about the motion—and apply a counteracting force, so that you know you would stop the atoms from moving,” says Prof. Vivishek Sudhir.

New Scientist

New Scientist reporter Leah Crane writes that a set of mirrors at LIGO have been cooled to near absolute zero, the largest objects to be brought to this frigid temperature. “The goal of this work is to help explain why we don’t generally see macroscopic objects in quantum states, which some physicists have suggested may be due to the effects of gravity,” writes Crane.

New Scientist

New Scientist reporter Leah Crane writes that researchers from the LIGO and Virgo gravitational wave observatories have potentially detected primordial black holes that formed in the early days of the universe. “When I started this, I was expecting that we would not find any significant level of support for primordial black holes, and instead I got surprised,” says Prof. Salvatore Vitale.

The Boston Globe

Boston Globe reporter Charlie McKenna writes that MIT researchers have used the spin of black holes detected by the LIGO and Virgo detectors to search for dark matter. "In reality, there is a much broader set of theories that predict or relies on the existence of these very ultra-light particles,” says Prof. Salvatore Vitale. “One is dark matter. So they could be dark matter. But they could also solve other open problems in particle physics.”