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Scientists detect gravitational waves

A group of scientists has achieved a great breakthrough by detecting a phenomenon which was predicted by Einstein nearly a century ago
BY Braingain Staff Writer |   12-02-2016

Scientists around the world are thrilled by the news that the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) has detected gravitational waves – ripples in the fabric of spacetime - predicted nearly a century ago by Albert Einstein.




This exciting Caltech video shows graphically how and why gravitational waves occur.

The scientists involved in the project explain the significance of their finding, and how it could help us better understand the birth of our universe. As LIGO team member Nergis Mavalwala (pictured below), says, “This first detection by LIGO is the very first step. It’s the start of the story nature is about to tell us.” The Karachi-born Mavalwala is a professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Nergis_Mavalwala_still_from_LIGO_video


“It took us 25 years and two detectors to finally detect a gravitational wave,” says LIGO’s executive director David Reitze, who is a research professor at Caltech. He says nobody believed at the time of Einstein’s prediction that you could really detect them, because the size of the effect was too small (one thousandth of the diameter of the nucleus of an atom).

Argentina-born physicist Gabriela Gonzalez, a professor of physics and astronomy at Louisiana State University, says, “We have observed gravitational waves from two black holes forming a larger black hole.” Kip Thorne, professor of physics at Caltech, describes this as “a storm in the fabric of space and time”. Putting the “storm” in perspective, Reitze says, “In that process, about three solar masses just disappears.”

Gonzalez says, “It’s going to be amazing. We have always said there’s going to be a field called gravitational wave astronomy.”

To learn more, click here.

Video credit: Caltech (images are stills from the video)
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