Hail Einstein, you were correct

The importance of the detection of gravitational waves by laboratories on the earth goes beyond confirmation of an important formulation made by Albert Einstein in his General Theory of Relativity 100 years ago. This was the only major idea left among Einstein’s propositions, apart from those like the existence of black holes,that had to be empirically proved. Teams of scientists at the Laser Interoferometric Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) in the US have claimed that signals of gravitational waves produced by the collision of two black holes, which happened 1.3 billion light years away, were picked up on September 14, 2015 in the laboratories. This is a landmark in cosmology and will be ranked among the greatest discoveries about the universe and its working.

Einstein had put forward the idea of gravitational waves as ripples in the fabric of space and time which are produced by the motion of massive objects. Their existence had been indirectly inferred earlier, but now it has been proved by detection with sensitive instruments. Gravitational waves will open up another entirely new area of exploration of the universe. All the existing information about the universe is derived from its study with the help of light, radio waves, X-rays, gamma rays etc. But these electromagnetic phenomena are not of much help in the study of objects like black holes. They do not go far back into time and so do not help us to understand the universe at the time of the Big Bang and for many millions of years after that. But gravitational waves from the early universe can give that long-ago picture, and so they are a new tool to study the universe. As one scientist noted, till now we had only eyes to look at the universe, but now we have ears to listen to its sounds, past and present. Till now the observed universe was like an ocean on a calm day. Now we can see the ocean roiled by a storm, with space bending this way and that, and time speeding and slowing. 

The discovery is the result of decades of work that involved international co-operation, creating and refining instruments which are incredibly sensitive and inventing processes and experiments which are among the most innovative. The instruments are so sensitive that they can detect a distortion in space time a thousandth of the diameter of an atomic nucleus. The signal lasted only a fraction of a second but it was recorded. With it science made a great
stride which happens only once or twice in centuries. 



DH Newsletter Privacy Policy Get top news in your inbox daily
GET IT
Comments (+)