Gravitational waves are complicated phenomena that occur when two massive objects in space orbit each other at high speed. Their speed and rotation affects the very structure of the universe, creating ripples of gravitational energy that can affect the rest of the cosmos. One easy way to picture this is to imagine two sharks swimming around each other in a pool. If they swim around each other closely and quickly, the ripples produced by their movements can affect the whole surface of the water. The fabric of spacetime is similar to the pool in this way.
There is quite a lot of astrophysics science involved in explaining gravitational waves, so I won't burden you with all the complicated equations. The most observable instances of gravitational waves being formed is when two supermassive black holes orbit each other at incredibly high speeds before merging to become one. Their speed is so great that the pulling force of gravity affects everything around them, similar to how very loud sound from an electric speaker can vibrate loose objects around it. These gravitational waves travel outwards from their source, much like sound waves.
If everything in the known universe obeys the law of conservation of energy, how are gravitational waves generated? Is matter converted into gravitational energy? Yes. When black holes merge, they lose mass. This lost mass is changed into energy, which leaves the black holes in the form of gravitational waves. Some may ask how anything can escape from a black hole’s infinite gravity, but gravitational waves themselves aren't made up of any particle. Unlike light, which is made of particles called photons, gravitational waves are made of pure gravitational radiation. It's a force, not a substance.
Gravitational waves carry energy in the form of gravitational radiation. Any particles that come into contact with the waves are affected by them, regardless of factors like molecular bond strength. This is because everything in the universe is woven into the fabric of spacetime, so they are all affected when spacetime is distorted. When this occurs, the waves create a distortion effect in matter like pushing, squishing and stretching. When the waves pass, the affected particles revert back to their original form. The following images depict the effect that the waves have on structures:
The gravitational waves we have detected passing through earth are extremely low in power. The largest detected wave had no noticeable effect on the earth, only the tiny stretching of the atoms. Gravitational waves aren't a thing of great concern, because all they do is carry and release energy to the universe. At the moment they are being observed so scientists can study the fabric of the universe, and hopefully this will lead to some incredible discoveries in the (not too far) future.
By- Chandler Yeatman
William Yeatman is 57 years old, a father of four who has been happily married for almost 30 years now. He’s a self-proclaimed stay-at-home dad who has lived in the same area since he was in high school. He calls his high school experience “Some of the most exciting years of my life! I was a very active student in my academics and socially during that time.” But there was a point during 10th grade when something awful happened to one of his fellow students. Her name was Evelyn Nasca; this name would hold a horrific place in his heart for years, always haunting William.
Will says, “ The name Evelyn Nasca still send chills down my spine to this very day!”
Evelyn was a girl who went missing from his high school during his sophomore year. He describes her as “ A sweet, kind and quiet girl.” Will live down the street from Evelyn; on a day to day basis they exchanged greetings but they weren’t close. They both worked on the tech crew for the school’s winter talent show. Will still vividly remembers the last time he saw her when she was.“
Leaving Robert Frost Middle School after the show. She seemed upset and everyone on the team was going over to go celebrate the job well done. Evelyn didn't, though, she just walked away and went out the door.” As it turned out, after that night nobody would see her again; she went missing.
Following the next couple of days, students would get questioned at school, and the police scattered over the entire wooded area where the school is located. Will says, “Everyone thought she had run away because her parents were divorced and tensions were high with her mother.” So here’s the question: what did really happen to Evelyn? Will said she was there for one second and then gone the next, with just a blink of an eye. He thought she might have been kidnapped or… murdered. The authorities searched for her near the area but had no luck in discovering her body. It wasn’t until 2 years after when they found the body. Will explained that “She was found by a grandfather and grandson taking a stroll in the woods by the school. I read about the whole thing in a side section in the Washington Post. I stumbled upon it and mortified. It would have been her senior year and she should have been graduating with us!” Even today his emotion is strong regarding the case; “ This whole ordeal made me mad! I felt awful for the family but I was suspicious of the stepfather. He just seemed creepy, I mentioned it once to a friend but abandoned the idea.”
The image of her still exists in his mind even almost 40 years later. He says, “ As I've gotten older, when I go back to that night I think about my innocence being lost. This idealistic mindset I once had about good people having the happy ending, well ,that was put to rest after what happened to Evelyn.” The article that he read only talked about her body being discovered, but never the killer.
Will thinks about all of this like it’s a distant memory, he has his own family now but the hardest part is he has his own daughter. She’s around the same age as Evelyn was when she disappeared, which makes him think about the murder. In fact, he talked about how he had looked up her case recently and a few articles came up. Will declares, “This case will always be the question in the back of my head. The question never answered. I think it will be the question I ask when I get to heaven, God,what happened to Evelyn Nasca?”
All of a sudden Sidney pulled me aside and asked, “What do you think about Vincent Chong’s artwork?”
“It makes me think of how much I have always wanted to be a figure skater.”
She looked at me and said, “Well, why don't you become an ice skater? Vivian, I've seen you on the ice before and you’re extremely talented.”
My hands began to shake and I told her how I was scared of failing. That’s when Sidney declared, “You should take a risk!”
Her words spoke to me and I got to thinking that I should start with purchasing the painting. But at a cost of $1,400 it was too astronomical for me to afford as a high school student. Sadly, I had to leave the art gallery without the inspirational piece and go back home to look at the blank wall in my bedroom.
The next day I went back to school and the day seemed to proceed normal until my younger brother, Anthony and I visited the thrift store. Earlier this morning on our way to school Anthony and I walked by the thrift store and Anthony saw an antique clock through the window that he wanted. But since there wasn't enough time to go inside we decided that we would go back after school. When the school day ended we both headed to the thrift shop and I watched Anthony rush to the counter to buy the clock. While he was making his purchase, I looked around the thrift store and I found Vincent Chong's original painting of She Puts Stars In The Sky for only ten dollars. That's when I immediately grabbed the painting, paid for it, and raced back home to hang the picture in my room. I thought it was truly my lucky day and my brother ran after asking me “What are you doing with that painting?”
“I bought it and I'm carrying it home. Is there a problem with that? You bought that clock that's supposedly an antique.”
“No, but how can you be sure if that painting isn't a knock-off of Vincent Chong’s?”
“Well, regardless of whether it's a fake or not it means something to me. I've never looked at something so meaningful that gave me a sense of purpose in this world. So, even if it's a cheap replica it's still important to me. When I look at it I feel like I'm in a different world that all to myself and I can accomplish anything.”
“And you get all that by looking at a picture? So, are you going to accomplish anything with this painting by chance?
“Yes, as a mater of fact I am! I'm going to become a figure skater and I'm going to hang his painting in my room to remind me of my dream.”
“Good luck! You know dad hasn't been the same since he lost his job after the car accident several years ago. And you know how mom has been picking up any odd jobs she can find, but she still buys expense clothing to make sure no one assumes that were practically broke. I just don't know how your going to bypass our parents on that one?”
“That why I'll need your help to cover up for me while I'm training.”
“Sounds risky. But I'm in! Let's get you all the way to the Olympics!”
After I hung the art work on my bedroom wall, I decided that I was going to hire a coach to help me be an Olympian figure skater, regardless of my parents disapproval. Even though, it was my ambition, I didn't know how I would be able to afford my training sessions? I didn't want to impose on anyone, but it was my only option. So, I called my older brother, Joel and he said “I'd be happy to pay. I have a good job on campus and I don't want mom and dad to ruin your dreams. They tried to do the same thing with me when I wanted to play football. So, I'd be happy to do whatever I can to encourage you.”
The next morning I called the coach and I scheduled a training session. Soon after I made the phone call I got sucked into the painting and I found myself sitting on the moon, putting a star into the sky. Suddenly, I woke up and it felt as if it was all a magical dream. The next day I went to met up with my coach, Mrs. Hilton, and she said “I'd be happy to train you. I've been coaching for twenty years and I think that you’re already an exceptional skater. But we will have to practice quite a bit in order for you to be an Olympian figure skater.”
“I'm willing to do whatever it takes.”
After that session, I spent a lot of time practicing at the rink with Mrs. Hilton in order to compete in the Junior Olympics. But after all of my training sessions I kept on being sucked back into the picture to place more stars in the sky. I had a hard time deciphering whether it was real or if it was all a dream?
It was a long time coming, but I had finally been accepted to compete in the Junior Olympic figure skating competition. I spent a total of six months practicing my routine for my future performance and I nailed my audition in front of the judges. I couldn't believe that Vincent Chong’s piece inspired me to do the impossible and how I kept being taken into the painting as if it was all meant to be.
A month later I performed at the Junior Olympics and I won a gold medal. It was hard to imagine how far I had come in such a short time. The best part of this moment was that I was able to celebrate with Mrs. Hilton, my brothers, and Sidney. When I returned to the house I placed my medal right next to the picture, but a sudden force came from the painting and I was taken into the art work. I discovered that it wasn't a dream and that I had been putting stars in the picture this whole time. As soon as I sat on the moon and I set the star in the sky I thought that I would find myself laying once again on my bed. However, this time I was trapped in the picture and I morphed into the girl that puts the stars into the sky. I escaped from the catastrophe at home into a world that I could call my very own.
The delicate soft skin which
her parents gave her.
While dipping her toes into
The warm bubbling creek.
Running rivers run
Much faster than she can but
she tries anyway.
The sweet citrus sun
Beams golden brown onto her
The creekbed sparkles
With cans and used up needles
that she doesn't see.
This is the place that
Is her sanctuary now.
The stress leaves her here.
She comes and visits
The crystal waters when her
Soul beckons for it.
Time has passed her by
But when she needs to come home,
She knows where to go.
She wishes she had
Spent more time having fun when
She still had the chance.
Now she’s cracked and worn.
The creekbed is all dried up
Along with her joy.
Her ashes are spread
Where the river used to be,
Finally at home.
This morning, just at sunrise, as my mother’s told me yet,
From darkness into brightness I was torn.
Though I remember faintly, it is easy to forget.
Can you recall the day that you were born?
And then, she said, I wouldn’t be for very longer much,
I didn’t have the interest to ask why.
She answered still that I could not embrace life, only touch,
And finally when the sun set, so would I.
I never knew what breakfast was, for whatever it’s worth,
For I was much too early for a meal.
It wasn’t seven hours back I came upon this earth
And hardly several ‘till I learned to feel.
And what I had were aches of growth that plagued me with their speed,
An hourglass that drowned me with its sand,
Possessions that would pass me on and disillude my needs,
And God, who left me slipping through His hand.
But while my tethered shadow travelled further to the east,
And lengthened every moment I was lent,
I found a sense of solace in the thoughts that I released,
And told myself they had not all been spent.
I vowed to spend an hour, a large fraction of my life,
Insisting that I focus on one task.
For what it would be worth would manifest beyond my strife,
A moment’s dedication’s all I asked.
I chose a book at random from my mother’s marble shelf.
It spoke of who men are and what they do.
She read to me as she once did to my much younger self,
Soon after I would check if it was true.
By then I’d reached an age that was resemblant of a soul
Who’d cherished all the fruitful years she’d led.
The mirror showed me someone who was tense and sad and old,
At least according to what I had read.
I felt ashamed and lonely, so I left my mom’s abode,
And asked a passer-by the time of day.
She said to me, “It’s five to six, the moon’s just barely showed.
Exhausts me how the seconds run away.”
I stood and saw the waning moon just floating out of place.
I looked at it and didn’t even blink.
Her words had all but calmed me, yet I stared out into space.
For once I didn’t want to stop and think.
For though my hands were creasing and my hair was turning white,
And though my stance diminished to a hunch,
For once I had a moment when I simply felt alright.
My constant state of worry was expunged.
I stopped and listened, no reflection that I had to give.
Too tired and too unconcerned to care.
For all my life I’d been so charged with how I’m meant to live,
It’s nice pretending I was never there.
For all the world’s effects were seldom carried on by me,
And I still I have no record to my name.
I now let be the strain of being me and simply be.
The planet keeps on turning all the same.
And what I have are shining stars, a day (or life in lieu),
An hourglass that’s warm as it is deep,
Possessions that I’m hoping will be passed to someone new,
And God, who slowly sends me off to sleep.
This moment, while I’m breathing and my impact’s not been heard,
From darkness into brightness I am torn.
In growing up, the time I’d spent was nothing but a word
As I recall the day that I was born.
- Current Mood: quixotic
The Love of Time
When my eyes met yours,
The fire in our souls tried to burn brighter than the other,
And we collided like a supernova,
Crashing and creating a spark,
And I saw that light.
I begged for you.
I begged for time.
You never left my side those days.
And I don’t think I ever realized
That you were my shadow,
You were mine,
And I always had more of you.
I’ve often misplaced my sense of direction
As the presence of you fogs my mind.
It’s like we’ve entered in some kind of race
Of who can fall first.
And I beg for a break, for a breath.
But there you are, never ending, never stopping,
You said you’d wait for me,
That you’d be there for me.
Where are you?
I’ve run out of the ways I’ve tried to look for you,
And I fear I cannot continue with this web of lies you and I have spun.
You hide away like a ghost,
Please come back.
Don’t you know we bleed the same?
How foolish of me,
To believe our love was authentic.
While you played my mind,
Winding your arms around me endlessly.
And you pulled me down into the darkness,
When we were once the brightest light.
Yet I desire you more and more as you ruin who I am,
And I scream with empty words.
I am starving for more.
You’re the most toxic love a human heart can feel.
How dare you leave me,
How dare you let me fall into your arms,
And whisper empty promises in my willing ears.
I loved you.
I loath you.
Why have you gone?
I’ve died for you, and I won’t do it again.
It seems I’ve lost the time.
Perhaps I should apologize,
For who I am,
Or who we were.
And perhaps I should not ask where are you,
But how are you?
I see you’ve been long ahead of me all this time,
Waiting for me.
Oh my love, how silly of me
To blame you for my heartache.
I can see the light we were,
The light we will be again.
I have spun your spiral darling,
And if you are not to give me all of you,
Please, take me into the darkness.
Our love was a game of tug of war
And I pulled with a force while you resisted with hatred and plea.
And yet, I could feel your hands grasping for me in the blinding darkness.
I wonder why you kept trying.
But darling, I love you.
I watched you burn and eventually simmer into my heart.
Oh my love, if only you were quicker.
Always Waiting, Never Stopping,
Parents are greeting their children
With smiles, hugs, and kisses.
This is so exciting it feels unreal.
Everything is going in slow motion.
Families are hugging.
Parents are crying
As they make their way into the auditorium.
Emotions are filling the room
The parents are walking into the auditorium
Tears are falling from people’s faces..
Names are being called,
I see my friends walking in
Walking across the stage.
This feels unreal.
One tear drops from my face.
I get to the other side of the stage, so many people clapping.
At this point I don’t even know what I feel.
Happiness, sadness, strength.
The moment I’ve been waiting for so long.
It has come. All I can think now is,
Teachers are ecstatic.
The students walking out are waving and smiling.
Parents are crying harder than before.
Parents are yelling.
“That’s my girl!” “That’s my baby!”
A Series of Haikus that are Definitely Not Rushed
I am so anxious
Frantic to finish this work
This work that is due.
Time is so quirky
So fast, while also so slow.
The clock ticks away.
I wait until I must work
And that time is now.
Just typing away
A little bit in each class
Hoping to be done
I just need to work
Just finish and be all done
But I don't have time
I need some more time
Not a lot, just a little.
So many distractions.
Even the small things
a cute dog walking outside,
Time is almost up
Soon I will have to print this
I am so sorry.
Fingers flying fast
Music blasting in my ears
Lunch is ending now
This is not long enough
I need to revise
I got some feedback
Apparently it was good
But a tiny bit short
I Smell Like Shit
To most people, a sense of smell is something bundled in with the package you get as a human. It’s an afterthought. At least it was for me until about two years ago.
I’ve had a condition called Olfactory Reference Syndrome (ORS) since the start of my freshman year in high school. It’s hard to explain exactly what it does just by the definition. Officially, it is “a condition in which individuals erroneously believe that they emit an unpleasant, foul, or offensive body odor. This belief is often accompanied by ideas or delusions of reference; i.e., the belief that other people take special notice of the odor in a negative way (for example, rub their nose in reference to the odor or turn away in disgust).” This is taken from Olfactory Reference Syndrome: A Case for DSM-V, an article which argues for it to have its own diagnosis in the DSM-V. But this definition hardly scratches the surface of what ORS does to a person, and makes them do.
I first had symptoms of ORS a few weeks into ninth grade. I had already made some friends, and I was generally doing well in school. That day, we were scheduled to take the MAP-R (a standardized reading comprehension test). Upon entering the test room, I smelled something awful.
Normal smells come and go. They can be avoided or masked, and they certainly don’t overwhelm you (for the most part). This was different. I disappeared, and odor replaced me. It was the dirtiest shit smell that I had ever come in contact with. My nose was full of solid smell, like a block of poop-sprayed lead in my nostrils.
I had to come up with a logical explanation for this foul odor. My first instinct was to blame it on the pair of gym shoes I was carrying in a plastic bag. The details become somewhat fuzzy at that point, but I remember acting weird and asking to go to the nurse. On the way, the smell got worse. I couldn’t ditch the shoes; my mom would kill me. But how else could I get away from the smell? Simple: use the tried and true method of faking sickness to get out of school. Then I could explain to my mom that the shoes smelled, we would clean them, and all would be well.
When my mom picked me up from the nurse’s office, she asked me what was wrong. Of course, I responded with “I have a stomach ache.”
As soon as we got outside, I asked her if the shoes smelled. The dreaded, but completely unexpected response was “No, I just cleaned them.”
At that point in time, I had none of the “reference” part of the disorder. My brain was simply coming up with the most logical solution to the problem of “Where is that smell coming from?” I had no idea that I even had these olfactory hallucinations. But at least I didn’t think it was me. Not yet.
In the next few days after the shoe incident I was mostly just confused. The smells were inconsistent, ranging from vinegary ketchup that burned my nose to a milky sort of coffee that had mildewed over a long time.
I kept thinking of things that could smell, like my clothes, my backpack, anything. After a week, I couldn’t keep it to myself. I asked incessant questions to all of my friends, even strangers, if anything about me smelled. But at least I didn’t think it was me.
The question-asking continued for quite some time, but the more people I asked, and the more negative responses I got, the more I was convinced that people were being polite, and nobody wanted to admit that something about me smelled pretty bad. And so, the question asking spread. I refrained from asking my parents for quite some time, as I was embarrassed that either they would say yes, or dismiss the question like I was trying to be amusing. But I asked everyone else I knew, everyone I could find. Then I asked Lucas. He had been my best friend for several years, and he had a knack for trouble-making. Recently, we had gotten back in touch. I was walking up the staircase to the second floor. I smelled something really bad, and the question just came out. “Do you smell something?”
And, well, he apparently did. He said “This hallway smells bad,” with a lot of added profanity. I had finally found the answer I was looking for! Someone admitted that I smelled!
It wasn’t too long after that that I first questioned my sanity. And if I had had any less insight into what was logical, I would have just taken his answer and run with it. Everyone else had denied that I smelled, but one person said I did. How could that have been possible? Regardless of the probability that everyone except the person who I knew to be a compulsive liar had denied my interrogation, I decided to trust the person whom I had known the longest, because it fell in line with my “delusional thinking.” I would refrain from the word delusional, because ORS is not a delusional disorder, but I can’t think of another word that appropriately describes the way my brain was acting at the time.
At that point, I would say my anxiety about smelling like shit (and various other foul stenches) was well into a clinically significant range. And that was hardly a month into my experience. It was getting to the point where all I could think about were smells, and people were starting to notice the fact that I did smell. Or at least I thought they noticed. I was refusing to get out of the car on my brother’s college visits, avoiding people, and in severe distress.
My mom had no idea what was going on. She was comforting, and offered to buy some scented lotion (which had no effect whatsoever). But one thing that I couldn’t stand was her denial that I smelled. I told her over and over again that she was wrong, and that I was very clearly rank, and everyone else knew.
This conversation all happened over a walk around the town, which I absolutely hated doing. When we all rendezvoused at the car, my dad had an odd expression on his face. He commented on the fact that I was emitting a flowery aroma (from the lotion). Which drove me nuts. For the rest of the car ride, I thought I smelled of disgusting shit, and flowers!
Almost every day after that could take up pages by themselves, but the next extremely notable experience came at Costco. My mom had convinced me to go into the shopping complex, but I stayed sitting in the lobby area. About 20 minutes in, a lady walked in through the automatic sliding doors. She made a horrified face which I attributed to my own smell, stuck her tongue out, and ran out the building. To this day, I have no idea whether she existed, because no one else seemed to notice her.
The following weeks at Blair High School were hell. Everyone in the school knew I smelled. At least that’s what I thought. And that’s really all there was to it. I went to school, dreading the anxiety, the anxiety happened, and I would come home. I didn’t do anything social or fun after school, I was just so exhausted from the intense anxiety that I couldn’t do much at all. I heard everything from the loud “This bus smell like egg” to the whispered “Do you smell that?” My therapist at the time told my mom that she should not let me stay home from school, and she listened. Unfortunately, because I had faked sickness so many times, when I really was sick she still sent me to school. Between throwing up at school and smelling bad, I thought everyone hated me with a passion.
Amidst all of the negative emotions and unfortunate events, I still had hope. Hope that would soon be dashed many times over.
The first doctor I saw regarding those hallucinations was my pediatrician. She of course had nothing helpful to offer. All she did was smell me and tell me I was so-called “clean.” Next on the list was an Ear Nose Throat doctor. It was fun having Tetracaine (like Novocain) shoved up my nose, but the knowledge gained was of little consequence. My nose was apparently working just fine.
We hadn’t even come close to exhausting all possible explanations, so seizures and brain tumor were next on the list. After a loud and boring MRI, the latter had been debunked. Furthermore, my brain looked entirely average, but I hadn’t lost faith in doctors yet. I was sure that the EEG would detect some mini-seizures that caused smelly bouts, and so I walked around all day with a ridiculous looking cloth wrapped around my head, wires sticking out of the back.
The results of the EEG were perfectly normal. I couldn’t believe it. Not in the conventional sense because, to most people, having a perfectly normal reading from an EEG would be terrific news. I was furious and I questioned the integrity of doctors and their respective tests. But I still had bloodwork that needed to be done, so we saved the neurologist and neuropsychologist as a last resort.
When the blood test results came in I didn’t expect much. I predicted exactly what I got: nothing. The neurologist was about as useful as any of the other practitioners I had seen. However, at least she was able to say I had super jumpy reflexes and poor circulation. At that point I failed to see the importance of either of those. But so did everyone else.
By that time, my anxiety was debilitating, and so my mom finally gave in and took me out of school. Luckily, however, she did not let me stop schoolwork. Again, to most people this sounds counterintuitive. And at the time, I actually wasn’t keen to continue work. But the assignment I was to work on eventually led to my diagnosis.
Like many freshmen, I had to read A Separate Peace. Our final paper was a psychoanalysis of the main character, Gene. Whilst clicking around Wikipedia, searching for various diagnoses for him, I stumbled across Ideas of Reference and Delusions of Reference. Intrigued by the odd nature of these disorders, I scrolled down.
Right there, in the middle of the page, under examples it read: Believing that the behavior of others is in reference to an abnormal, offensive body odor, which in reality is non-existent and cannot be detected by others (see Olfactory Reference Syndrome). I “saw” Olfactory Reference Syndrome. Suffice to say that I had never found a more accurate description of any experience I had ever had in my entire life.
I immediately called my mom to tell her the news. She was tentative at first, but once she read more into it she was, to my knowledge, overjoyed. Not that I had some rare and only semi-treatable mental illness, but that we knew what the hell was going on! I was gleeful.