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Could a gravitational wave rip apart an entire planet? | News Fission

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You may not feel it, but at every single moment you are being ever-so-slightly stretched and squeezed by ripples in space-time. These ripples, called gravitational waves, are caused by the movements of massive objects like black holes, and researchers have detected them warping Earth by minuscule amounts. But what if they warped Earth by non-minuscule amounts?

In this episode of Dead Planets Society, our hosts Chelsea Whyte and Leah Crane get curious about whether we could make a gravitational wave that would be strong enough to feel – and what that might be like – or even strong enough to rip apart a planet. This means manipulating black holes because they are the densest objects in the universe, so they are the most efficient gravitational wave machines out there.

But it isn’t as easy as just putting a pair of black holes next to the planet and smashing them together, because the gravity from the black holes would destroy the planet regardless of any waves involved. Gravitational wave researcher Christopher Berry joins Leah and Chelsea this episode to talk about tuning the frequency of gravitational waves to vibrate the whole planet apart, whether it would be possible to disassemble the entire solar system with gravitational waves and how to create a deadly black hole symphony that could beam its cosmic music across the universe.

Dead Planets Society is a podcast that takes outlandish ideas about how to tinker with the cosmos – from punching a hole in a planet to unifying the asteroid belt – and subjects them to the laws of physics to see how they fare.

For more from Dead Planets Society, subscribe to New Scientist Weekly or visit our podcast page here.


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