What if those gravitational waves detected would be actually so strong that the distance of those mirrors moved would be larger? Not 1/1000th of proton but rather one millimeter, or one meter or even more? What would happen to us? How big would these black holes had to be and how much energy would be released in such a process?

  • $\begingroup$ The rivets, nails, and screws in old buildings would pop. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 13, 2016 at 16:06
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    $\begingroup$ We would be able to extract much more information from them as xkcd shows. $\endgroup$
    – user1569
    Commented Feb 17, 2016 at 18:40
  • $\begingroup$ @JanDoggen +1 XKCD never fails! $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 17, 2016 at 19:35

2 Answers 2


Based on a post by an Astrophysicist my understanding is as follows:

  1. Gravitational waves would still be faint to detect irrespective of the size of the Black Holes. BTW aren't black holes meant to be more concentrated rather than bloated?
  2. The distance from ground zero is what matters rather than the size of the colliding black holes and even if they were a billion times closer they would still not measure up to 1 mm.
    1. There wouldn't be significant impact from the waves themselves rather the Black Holes are the ones that would do the damage.
    2. For the shift to be 1 mm we would require a force enormously stronger than that of a gravitational wave.

Here's the link to the article: http://www.forbes.com/sites/briankoberlein/2016/02/13/could-gravitational-waves-ever-be-strong-enough-to-feel/#1605e7fa4aac

Disclaimer: All my points are a result of my learning from the above link rather than any native knowledge or original research that I profess to have done.

  • $\begingroup$ would it kill you immediately if the wave would move spacetime by 1mm? With all the bonds ripped? $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 16, 2016 at 13:35
  • $\begingroup$ @VojtaKlimes The 1mm movement seems unlikely from the gravitational wave. Besides some other force from the main event is more likely to kill directly or indirectly rather than the wave itself. Can you please clarify what you mean by bonds ripped? $\endgroup$
    – signsgeek
    Commented Feb 16, 2016 at 20:24
  • $\begingroup$ What I thought was that what if the gravitational wave was stronger what would the effects of the wave would, only the wave, I can imagine that the event would have to be so strong that you would not probably care about the wave but what would the effect be if spacetime would be stretched by one millimeter? That is the thing that happens right? This way the mirrors moved away from each other. If there would be a difference of one millimeter I could imagine that as the wave would pass through you it would stretch you by one millimeter. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 16, 2016 at 20:30

We would have been able to detect them sooner, for sure, but they could eventually be strong enough to disrupt massive things like the fusion core in our sun.

  • $\begingroup$ Ok but what about humans and life on earth? Could you give me some more details about how it would happen? $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 13, 2016 at 15:09
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    $\begingroup$ Can you cite a source that supports this? I'm doubtful that they would significantly affect fusion. $\endgroup$
    – HDE 226868
    Commented Feb 13, 2016 at 17:26

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