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2017 FLA Science Fair Award

This year Rick Wagner and I (Bruce Elliott) were co-judges for our Leo Enright Award for Astronomy for FLASH 2017. 
We awarded the prize to Joshua Dove (grade 8) of Kingston Christian School.
The project was entitled "Galactic Jello: A model of gravitational wave". He looked at whether a model using gelatin, marbles, and a laser could be used as a simplistic tool to demonstrate the waveforms created in space and then received by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observer (LIGO). He was able to relate his findings to quantum theory and some basic properties of gravity and light. The link with astronomy was demonstrated through his appreciation of gravitational waves predicted from Einstein theory of relativity. As well he understood the significance of earlier observations of light from distant stars being "bent" around an eclipsed sun.
He had a genuine interest and enthusiasm for his project as well as the broader significance of his findings to our understanding of the universe. His project was the only original research study relating to astronomy, although there were other projects which had researched the internet on various topics.
 
Both Rick and I felt he deserved the RASC Kingston Award.  Please share this with other RASC Kingston members!
 
Thank you for the opportunity to judge for the RASC Kingston FLASH award.
 

 
Abstract:
Joshua Dove Div/Cat Physical and Math / Junior
Title: Galactic Jello: A model of gravitational waves
 
Summary: Albert Einstein hypothesized the presence of gravitational waves when he published the general theory of relativity in 1915. On September 14, 2015, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observer (LIGO) was able to measure gravitational waves from what was calculated to be binary black holes merging into one black hole. The purpose of this project was to demonstrate on a small scale the waveforms produced from a binary collision from the moment of impact, to see if the waveforms produced would vary with the energy of impact and be consistent and predictable. This project looked at whether a model using gelatin, marbles, and a laser could be used as a simplistic tool to demonstrate the waveforms created in space and then received by LIGO. The experiment used 4 different sizes/weights of marble, 2 different sizes of gelatin mold, and 3 different heights of drop to create the collisions with different impact energies. A comparison was made between these impact energies and the changes in height of the waveforms visible on the target card. Results indicated a possible linear relationship between the impact energy and the square of the change in height (amplitude) of the waveform on the target card. However, the data collected between the small pan of gelatin and the large pan of gelatin was not consistent, and the data collected over the different dates of testing was not consistent. Therefore, these results could not be proven to be directly related to the Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. While the results were not consistent over the days of testing, they did show that the experiment could be used as a basic model to demonstrate how gravitational waves might travel through space.
 

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