In a tour de force of technology and just plain stubbornness spanning half a century and costing more than $750 million, a team of experimenters from Stanford University reported on Wednesday that a set of orbiting gyroscopes had detected a slight sag and an even slighter twist in space-time.
The finding confirms some of the weirdest of the many strange predictions - like black holes and the expanding universe - of Albert Einstein's theory of gravity, general relativity.
"We have completed this landmark experiment of testing Einstein's universe," Francis Everitt, leader of the project, known as Gravity Probe B, said at a news conference at NASA headquarters in Washington. "And Einstein survives," according to
"Imagine the Earth as if it were immersed in honey," Stanford physicist Francis Everitt, who led the project funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, said in a statement. "As the planet rotates, the honey around it would swirl, and it's the same with space and time."
The project was one of the longest-running efforts in the U.S. space agency's history, beginning in 1963, and cost about $750 million, NASA spokesman Trent Perrotto said today in a telephone interview. The findings were the culmination of 49 years of work by Everitt, who came to Stanford in 1962 to help build the most precise gyroscope ever designed and produced, according to NASA,