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Physicists on why discovery of gravitational waves is earth-shattering for scientific community

by AirTalk®

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David Reitze, executive director of the LIGO Laboratory at Caltech, announces that scientists have observed ripples in the fabric of spacetime called gravitational waves for the first time. SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

For the first time ever, scientists can actually hear the universe.

A team of physicists announced Thursday that they were able to detect and record the sound of two black holes a billion light-years away colliding with one another. A hundred years ago, Albert Einstein posited that gravitational waves existed, but until now these ripples in the fabric of space-time were undetectable. Now, thanks to the twin Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors and the team that worked on them, the final piece of Einstein’s general theory of relativity.

What does the universe sound like? The LIGO team says it was a faint tone that was the result of a collision about 1.2 billion years ago that rose to the note of middle C before stopping. It signifies the warping of space-time itself.

Until now, scientists haven’t been able to measure that sound over the other noises of our planet, but in September 2015, the LIGO antenna were able to measure vibrations from a gravitational wave in The discovery is being likened by some to the night Galileo first pointed a telescope toward the sky and observed the planets.

Just how important is this discovery to the scientific community?

Guests:

Alan Weinstein, professor of physics at Caltech

Lawrence Krauss, theoretical physicist and Foundation Professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration and Physics Department at Arizona State University

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