A century ago, Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves. Today, physicists announced that he was right.
Black holes. Gravitational waves. And corners of the universe where no light can penetrate — or escape.
When Albert Einstein released his general theory of relativity almost 100 years ago, he predicted the existence of gravitational waves in the universe. Today — by recording "the sound of two black holes colliding a billion light-years away" — physicists confirmed that gravitational waves actually do exist, finally proving that Einstein was right. And with this discovery, not only can astronomers and physicists see the universe, they can now also hear it.
Nicola Twilley, writing in The New Yorker, explains it best:
"A hundred years ago, Albert Einstein, one of the more advanced members of the species, predicted the waves' existence, inspiring decades of speculation and fruitless searching. Twenty-two years ago, construction began on an enormous detector, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO). Then, on September 14, 2015, at just before eleven in the morning, Central European Time, the waves reached Earth. Marco Drago, a thirty-two-year-old Italian postdoctoral student and a member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, was the first person to notice them. He was sitting in front of his computer at the Albert Einstein Institute, in Hannover, Germany, viewing the LIGO data remotely. The waves appeared on his screen as a compressed squiggle, but the most exquisite ears in the universe, attuned to vibrations of less than a trillionth of an inch, would have heard what astronomers call a chirp — a faint whooping from low to high. This morning, in a press conference in Washington, D.C., the LIGO team announced that the signal constitutes the first direct observation of gravitational waves."
In this New York Times video, the confirmation of Einstein's theory is made visual, showing us that "scientists have finally tapped into the deepest register of physical reality, where the weirdest and wildest implications of Einstein’s universe become manifest." This is huge. We can't tell you how thrilled we are to witness scientific inquiry and exploration at its finest.