Australian politics, society & culture


The best reads from around the world

Friday, February 12th

Gravitational waves exist: The inside story of how scientists finally found them “Just over a billion years ago, many millions of galaxies from here, a pair of black holes collided. They had been circling each other for aeons, in a sort of mating dance, gathering pace with each orbit, hurtling closer and closer. In the fraction of a second that it took for the black holes to finally merge, they radiated a hundred times more energy than all the stars in the universe combined. The waves rippled outward in every direction, weakening as they went. On Earth, dinosaurs arose, evolved, and went extinct. The waves kept going. About 50,000 years ago, they entered our own Milky Way galaxy. A hundred years ago, Albert Einstein predicted the waves’ existence. 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.” (Also: The paper announcing the finding)

The New Yorker