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Gravitational Waves Finally Detected

On Thursday morning (10:30 EST, 15:30 GMT) scientists will make what they are calling a major gravitational wave announcement.

Ars goes inside ground zero of the search for gravitational waves.
The scientists are being pretty coy about it, and after a century of looking for gravitational waves, you can understand their caution about not wanting the cat to slip out of the bag.

However, credible rumors have been swirling about the discovery of gravitational waves emanating from a binary black hole, and physicists associated with the National Science Foundation-funded project are expected to discuss this new research during their presentation.

The United States has two major facilities, each consisting of a large interferometer, to detect gravitational waves. One is based in Hanford, Washington, and the other is in Livingston, Louisiana. Ars will be on hand at the Louisiana facility to bring you news of the announcement, potentially one of the most important scientific findings of modern times.

Einstein first predicted gravitational waves 100 years ago in his Theory of General Relativity. Gravitational waves are ripples in the fabric of space-time created by the movement of mass. These are mostly too small to be detected, so we need to look for waves that begin with massive events like the Big Bang, the collapse of stars and the collision of black holes.

By analyzing the information contained in gravitational waves, we can now open up an entirely new view of the cosmos -- potentially shedding light on the very earliest moments of the universe, as well as the creation and growth of black holes.

It’s inspiring to think about all the lives and effort, generation after generation, that have gone into uncovering this insight about our universe. Today’s breakthrough depended on the talent of brilliant scientists and engineers from many nations, but also advances in computing that only recently became possible.

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