We've Found Gravitational Waves. What Will We Learn From Them?

Spotting them was the easy part. Now gravitational waves will help unravel these mysteries of the cosmos.


In February 2016, Albert Einstein made history, again. That’s when physicists announced they’d finally observed what the great scientist’s theories had predicted 100 years earlier: gravitational waves.

The first confirmed sighting of gravitational waves — distortions of space-time, literally ripples in the fabric of the universe — was a tremendous feat, earning Nobel Prizes for the key developers of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO). The waves’ ultimate source was just as fantastic as the engineering that went into detecting them: two black holes smashing together, their enormous gravities sending undulations throughout the cosmos.

This achievement, the culmination of a multidecade-long effort, was justifiably celebrated. But while it resolved the long-standing issue of whether gravitational waves existed, it also marked a starting point for a whole new journey.


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