This archived article was written by: David Rawle
What would happen if two black holes collided? It would send ripples throughout space. This is exactly what happened 1.3 billion years ago, and we can only see the repercussions today. A century ago, one of the greatest minds of our history changed how scientists would understand our universe, he just didn’t know it. His name was Albert Einstein and in February 2016, his theory was proven. When the two-black holes collided it made such a shock that scientists could see the gravitational waves ripple through space.
Gravitational waves are ripples in space caused by gravity. The larger the object and the faster it goes, the larger and more noticeable these waves are. These waves rippled across trillions of miles of space, and are infinitesimally small, about 1/1000th the size of a proton. Einstein theorized in an attempt to explain how gravity works, that space and time are actually a single continuum and gravity is how it stretches and changes due to mass. Due to these ripples in space, science can now begin to see how gravity works.
Why has it taken nearly a century? Scientists haven’t been able to see these ripples until recently when the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) was built. LIGO is two L-shaped interferometers that splits light into two beams where they could observe the movement of the particles. This was the device that allowed them to see the light particles move.
There has always been something missing when it came to Einstein’s theory, and this is now the solidifying piece of evidence to prove that he was right all along. This is the beginning of scientists understanding of how gravity works and can lead to some of the biggest changes in science. From this point onward, our future is bright, and what will happen next will revolutionize the way we think about time and space.