Chinese scientists hope to join the search for gravitational waves in an ambitious project whose proponent, geophysicist Tang Keyun, considers would have a bigger impact on basic science than manned space flight.
The waves are theoretical ripples in space-time posited by Einstein to originate in supernovas or colliding black holes. They have never been observed to date. The China Einstein Gravitational Wave Observatory would complement similar initiatives in Europe, Japan and the United States, because of its location and operating frequencies, reports Ding Yimin in this article.
The Chinese government has yet to approve the project, which would cost US$75 million, and would involve building an L-shaped underground interferometer several kilometres long. Nearly two dozen Chinese institutes and universities have offered to work on a prototype interferometer, which may encourage the authorities to give the green light to a full-sized one.
Reference: Science 304, 375 (2004)