Scientists pinpoint the existence of gravitational waves, or ripples of space and time that transport energy across the universe.
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In an announcement that electrified the world of astronomy, scientists said Thursday that they have finally detected gravitational waves, the ripples in the fabric of space-time that Einstein predicted a century ago.An all-star international team of astrophysicists used an excruciatingly sensitive, $1.1 billion set of twin instruments known as the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory, to detect a gravitational wave generated by the collision of two black holes 1.3 billion light-years from Earth.Scientists found indirect proof of gravitational waves in the 1970s by studying the orbits of two colliding stars, and the work was honored as part of the 1993 Nobel Prize in physics. But now scientists can say they have actually detected a gravitational wave. The finding had to be tested and verified, using even conventional telescopes, before the scientists could say with confidence that it was a gravitational wave.Detecting gravitational waves is so difficult that when Einstein first theorized about them, he figured scientists would never be able to hear them.Kip Thorne, the Cal Tech physicist who co-founded LIGO and has been working on gravitational waves for more than half a century, said he kept the secret even from his wife until just a few days ago.
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