CONNECTING PEOPLE TO IDEAS AND TO EACH OTHER
CONNECTING PEOPLE TO IDEAS AND TO EACH OTHER

Albert Einstein, Gravitational Waves, and Me

Why Astrophysicists Were So Desperate to Catch a 'Whopping Big Signal' from the Universe

Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) Co-Founder Kip Thorne speaks to members of the media following a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, as it is announced that scientists they have finally detected gravitational waves, the ripples in the fabric of space-time that Einstein predicted a century ago. The announcement has electrified the world of astronomy, and some have likened the breakthrough to the moment Galileo took up a telescope to look at the planets. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Like nearly every other physicist in the world last week, I was glued to my computer screen watching the recent press conference jointly called by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) and the National Science Foundation. We’d all heard chatter, of course, that a grad student last fall had seen a “whopping big signal” that was nearly too good to be true. But none of that anticipation could compare to the way I felt upon hearing the historic words at the press conference:

“Ladies and gentlemen, we have detected gravitational waves. …

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