MadSci Network: Physics

Re: Does a spinning top emit gravity waves?

Date: Fri May 21 00:23:09 1999
Posted By: Troy Goodson, Staff, Spacecraft Navigation, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Area of science: Physics
ID: 926239906.Ph


First of all, there is no such thing as a stupid question.

I confess that I am not an expert in quantum mechanics or relativity. However, it is my understanding that gravity waves are the result of the movement of gravitational mass. Imagine for a moment, two masses in space; there is a particular magnitude of gravitational attraction (force) between them (exerted upon each other). If one of the masses moves, the distance between them will change, and, therefore the magnitude of gravitational attraction. However, how long will it take before the change is felt? This is the sort of question that will lead down the path of studying gravity waves, in the astronomical sense -- you should note that the term gravity waves has a completely different meaning in the context of meterology. A few hours in your university's library should straighten this subject out :)

"One of the first predictions of Einstein's Theory of General Relativity was the existence of gravitational waves. Gravitational waves are predicted to propagate at the speed of light and represent a time-dependent distortion of the local space and time coordinates. Just as electromagnetic waves are produced by the acceleration of charge, gravitational waves are predicted to be produced by the acceleration of mass. Gravitational waves, however, differ from electromagnetic waves in a number of ways. While only a single charge is needed to produce electromagnetic waves, at least two masses are required to produce gravitational waves. The gravitational field is also very weak so that only catastrophic events are expected to produce detectable waves. Possible events include the collision of two astronomical objects and the collapse of a large astronomical object. " from Louisiana State University

In answer to your question, yes, they do generate gravity waves. However, you really should research this question some on your own.

Do spinning tops and gyroscops generate a force? They don't create something out of nothing, but they do respond in ways that are counterintuitive to most people. They do not create gravity. Gravity is an attraction between masses, it is not created by spinning a mass.

A nice book that may help you with gyroscopes is Machover, Carl, "Basics of Gyroscopes" 1960

The question of centrifugal force has been answered in these archives, already. see the archived question you might also gain additional insight from these references

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