The discovery of gravitational waves could totally shake up our understanding of the universe.
The discovery of gravitational waves recently has totally shaken up the scientific community — but why?
The announcement was made on Thursday at a National Science Foundation meeting in Washington, D.C. that gravitational waves, which had long been rumored but never before observed, had finally been discovered by researchers using the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Obseratory (LIGO), according to a Discovery News report.
LIGO was able to observe two black holes merging 1.3 billion years ago and listen in for signs of gravitational wave — and they heard it clearly.
But why is this so significant? For starters, now we know how to find graviational waves, a new type of cosmic signal that could open up an entirely new field of astronomy, according to the report. Basically, we can hear the heart beats of the universe.
But it’s also important because it strengthens our current understanding of the laws of physics. Albert Einstein long theorized the existence of gravitational waves — now, we know he’s right, and the fact that he predicted it shows that we are correct in our understanding of physics.
Now, scientists will be able to listen for ripples in spacetime caused by some of the biggest and most energetic events in our universe. And gravitational waves could help us discover new things we didn’t even know were out there.
“Our observation of gravitational waves accomplishes an ambitious goal set out over five decades ago to directly detect this elusive phenomenon and better understand the universe, and, fittingly, fulfills Einstein’s legacy on the 100th anniversary of his general theory of relativity,” said Caltech’s David H. Reitze, executive director of the LIGO Laboratory, in a statement.
And it’s all thanks to LIGO, which was built 20 years ago and is paying big dividents, said France Cordova, NSF director, in the statement.
“In 1992, when LIGO’s initial funding was approved, it represented the biggest investment NSF had ever made,” she said. “It was a big risk. But NSF is the agency that takes these kinds of risks. We support fundamental science and engineering at a point in the road to discovery where that path is anything but clear. We fund trailblazers. It’s why the U.S. continues to be a global leader in advancing knowledge.”