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Scientists confirm the existence of gravitational waves




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, confirming a prediction of Albert Einstein's theory of relativity, during a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, February 11, 2016.
The machines that gave scientists their first-ever glimpse at gravitational waves are the most advanced detectors ever built for sensing tiny vibrations in the universe.The two US-based underground detectors are known as the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory, or LIGO for short.
 / AFP / SAUL LOEB        (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
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, confirming a prediction of Albert Einstein's theory of relativity, during a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, February 11, 2016. The machines that gave scientists their first-ever glimpse at gravitational waves are the most advanced detectors ever built for sensing tiny vibrations in the universe.The two US-based underground detectors are known as the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory, or LIGO for short. / AFP / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

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Thursday morning was a pivotal time in the science community. While in Washington D.C., scientists from Cal Tech scientists confirmed the existence of gravitational waves.

Only existing in theory for almost 100 years, these waves are ripples in the fabric of space and time. Scientists at LIGO say they offer a new way of observing the universe and will give us more information about the cosmos that we would never have been able to see without them.

"This gives us a new window to the universe," explained KPCC science reporter Sanden Totten. "One scientist from USC explained it to me this way: you walk into an art gallery and you're only allowed to see yellow. You may pick up some of the paintings, you may be able to see some of the images but you're missing a lot, right? And then you add the color blue and you get a little bit more. Well, gravitational waves are like adding another filter to our ability to look at the universe."

So now that we have this new tool to look further into the universe, what are we going to look for? Totten broke it down in layman's terms for Take Two's Deepa Fernandes:

"Scientists today said, 'We may see things we've never even thought to look for before.' There's a chance that these black holes and neutron stars are just the beginning but there's a whole wild wooly universe out there that we've never been able to experience and now that we have the ears for it, these gravitational wave detectors, we might find out about them."

To better understand the implications of this announcement, click the blue play button above.

Update: LIGO's Rainer Weiss, Barry C. Barish and Kip S. Thorne were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics 2017 for confirming the existence of gravitational waves.



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