On 12 February, David Blair, the Director of the Australian International Gravitational Research Centre at the University of Western Australia, wrote:
Our observation of the gravitational waves from the merger of two black holes simultaneously represents our first glimpse of the first stars in the universe, and a direct observation of the final end point of stellar evolution. We have seen the vibrations of the shimmering event horizon of a newly formed black hole, where time comes to an end.
It is hard to overstate the significance of this discovery. It is our first direct contact with our first stellar ancestors. It is our first direct view of a place in the universe where matter loses all its identity and time comes to an end. It is the first of many messages that will tell us how many black holes are out there and how much of the mass of the universe they can account for.
This is the sound of a “ripple in space-time took a thousand million years to reach us, hurtling through the void at 299,000 kilometres a second”. It is a chirp.
Liam Viney has suggested that this discovery is an opportunity “to ponder what kind of thinker Albert Einstein was”. He asked what kind of mind Einstein had to conceptualise gravitational waves …
Born two decades before the beginning of the 20th century, what kind of mind was his that could come up with ideas that would have to wait until the second decade of the 21st century to be proven correct?
Liam points to Einstein’s love of music as a way to bring “a uniquely aesthetic quality to his theories”.
He wanted his science to be unified, harmonious, expressed simply, and to convey a sense of beauty of form.
Music inspired and guided him; it stimulated parts of his brain that could not be accessed through sitting at his desk. It gave him a sense of patterns, feelings, hunches, intuitions – all manner of sensual information that could be described as ways of thinking that don’t involve words.
Stewart Riddle has extended the discussion of Einstein’s love of music. He suggests:
It would not be an understatement to claim that gravitational waves can provide us with a soundtrack to the universe. And, most amazingly, an amateur violinist got it right over a century ago!
All of which encouraged me to think about the ripple effect of coaching on a smaller, cosmic scale.
What learning experiences might coaches have to extend their impact on the long-term learning of athletes as well as their own learning?
I wonder whether we might learn to coach in a way that prompts coaches and athletes to make a Szbolcs Marka kind of observation:
Until this moment, we had our eyes on the sky and we couldn’t hear the music. The skies will never be the same.
Einstein’s apartment, Bern (NASA Blueshift, CC BY 2.0)
Einstein on a bike (Tony and Wayne, CC BY-NC 2.0)