Evidence of gravitational waves emerges

Feb 12, 2016, 7:02 PM EST
Source: Andrew Malone/flickr
Source: Andrew Malone/flickr

100 years after Albert Einstein theorized gravitational waves, scientists announced that they have direct evidence of them, and that they can confirm that they are created when two accelerating masses generate “ripples” in the curvature of space-time.

Quartz writes:

This is an exciting moment for science. It is a well-deserved culmination of countless hours of toil and creativity. And yet, this discovery fills me with a certain amount of nostalgia and sadness. Some are already calling it one of the most important discoveries in physics of the last few decades. Let me not mince words here: If that is indeed the case, then physics is in bad shape.
 
The experiment took so long because gravity is the weakest among the four fundamental forces. The only gravitational waves that could be detected on Earth are those that involve the collision of two massive black holes, which is exactly what the team of scientists responsible for this discovery found.
 
The technology, dedication and attention to detail that has been involved in detecting these waves is a testament to the power of tool-driven science. The theory itself has been around for more than 100 years. But the experimental setup that allowed scientists to validate it consists of a panoply of old and new tools.
 
 
The idea of gravitational waves started 100 years ago, when Albert Einstein revolutionized physics with a theory of gravity called general relativity — which reimagined the force of gravity as a warping of dimensions of space and time. The theory made a lot of startling predictions. One of them was that very heavy objects such as black holes should produce ripples in space-time itself.
 
The ripples stayed in the realm of theory until the 1960s, when a researcher named Joseph Weber began working on ways to actually detect them. At the time, another researcher named Rainer Weiss was teaching at MIT and some of his students started asking him about Weber's work.

 

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