Over a billion years ago, two black holes that had been orbiting each other smashed together. Ripples in space-time from the collision reached Earth. Specifically, the waves reached a pair of giant interferometers in the United States, located in Louisiana and Washington state.
Scientists have for the first time detected gravitational waves, ripples in space and time hypothesized by Albert Einstein a century ago, in a landmark discovery announced on Thursday that opens a new window for studying the cosmos…
The colliding black holes that produced these gravitational waves created a violent storm in the fabric of space and time, a storm in which time speeded up, and slowed down, and speeded up again, a storm in which the shape of space was bent in this way and that way.
I’m no physicist, but I find it easier to picture gravity as a warping or reshaping of space and time, not a fog of quantum particles. Transmogrified to an audio signal, something a person can experience, black holes go whoop.
I’ve read that Einstein’s work has been overwhelmed by quantum mechanics. Even, if you view PhDs as the children of their advisors, that Einstein’s line has gone extinct. So in addition to wondering what new view we’ll have of the universe by looking at gravity waves, I feel good about this discovery.
This is probably not good news for anyone’s grand unified theory of everything. Gravity remains different from the other fundamental forces of electromagnetism, weak nuclear, and strong nuclear. Nature refuses to settle into a neat, tidy human understanding.
How frustrating, how problematic, how infuriating. How awesome.
Thanks to reuters for the quotations above. Many outlets covered the news.