Discovery of the century!
100 years ago, Albert Einstein had published his famous theory of General Relativity. The theory tells us that the force of gravity is best understood as a “warping” of space itself. And when gravitating objects move, they generate a “ripple” in space itself. This led to the prediction of the existence of a special type of wave, called the Gravitational Wave.
Gravitational waves are these ripples in the curvature of spacetime which propagate as waves, travelling outward from the source at the speed of light. These are mostly too small to be detected, so we need to look for waves that begin with massive events like the Big Bang, the collapse of stars and the collision of black holes. Throw something really big into the stillness of space – like two black holes colliding, or two pulsars merging – and gravitational waves created by the event should spread not just across the galaxy, but ultimately through all of spacetime.
At a press conference on Thursday, physicists from the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) revealed that they had detected gravitational waves. “We have detected gravitational waves. We did it,” said David Reitze, executive director of LIGO.
The announcement is the climax of a century of speculation, 50 years of trial and error, and 25 years perfecting a set of instruments so sensitive they could identify a distortion in spacetime a thousandth the diameter of one atomic nucleus across a 4km strip of laserbeam and mirror.
The phenomenon was detected by the collision of two black holes. Using the world’s most sophisticated detector, the scientists listened for 20 thousandths of a second as the two giant black holes, one 35 times the mass of the sun, the other slightly smaller, circled around each other.
More generally, we have finally tapped into the deepest register of physical reality, where the weirdest and wildest implications of Einstein’s universe become manifest.
There is a new door that has opened for scientists and this is considered one of most important discoveries in the last 100 years. These are exciting times for a young civilization.
The discovery of gravitational waves confirms an important aspect of the theory of relativity, but it does much more than that. Quite literally, it opens up a new chapter in our exploration of the cosmos.
“Einstein would be very happy, I think.”- Gabriela Gonźalez, a spokeswoman for LIGO.
There is so much to explore with the new information that we got our hands on. It’s only a matter of time that further discoveries will be made using the new facts. I take a deep breath as I tank up with joy and congratulate you on this ecstatic moment. Let the excitement grow.
Einstein, you Rockstar!!!