(There were so many incredible pictures to chose from for this one. But I’m going with Einstein because: Hello, most beloved scientist of all time! Congrats on being right about everything!!!)
I’m up in Springfield, Massachusetts working on a long-form piece about inner-city preschools, when a friend starts texting me a bunch of stuff on gravitational waves. I’m a bit confused because I haven’t caught the news, and because this friend is not really a physics person. (I’m also a bit distracted, because nap-time just ended and I’m in a classroom filled with fully charged three-year-olds).
Didn’t we already find gravitational waves a few years back? No, wait. That turned out to be a false alarm; cosmic dust or something. So we’ve found them now? For real? Ok, then!
I’m embedded in this school piece, so I can’t really go down any rabbit holes right now. But that’s fine because when it comes to complicated physics, nothing beats a well-done web video (or two or three).
Posting my favorites here, because as my friend pointed out: this is, like, the most amazing thing ever.
- Let’s start with the waves themselves:
- And then move onto the explanation (via New York Times)
- For the backstory, some straight reporting and writing (via New Yorker).
- And for the whole story (from Isaac Newton to Albert Einstein to the guys in Antarctica who thought they found g-waves a few years back but were wrong), Brian Greene at the World Science Festival:
After you’ve skimmed through these a bit, do yourself a favor and go back and watch the first one again. That beat. That chirp. That’s a cosmic burst from a billion years ago, echoing down to the present day. Like, if God were real, and if she had a heartbeat…
I don’t know what’s more amazing, the sound itself, or the fact that we found it. We devised a plan to detect, measure and record the echoes of something that we suspected to have happened a billion years ago, and [ASSUMING THE MEASUREMENTS ARE RIGHT THIS TIME] that plan worked. Just pause and marvel at that fact for a second. Stack it against all the uglier facts you were assaulted with today. See which stacks higher.