“Over a billion lightyears ago, in the darkness of outer space, a collision of black holes sent out a fleet of invisible waves that were headed right toward planet Earth. The waves were so powerful they could ripple spacetime but most people on Earth didn’t believe the waves were real.”
How do you detect invisible and possibly hard-to-believe gravitational waves whooshing through space? And what happened early in the morning on September 14, 2015, when that pack of gravitational waves whooshed at us?
Astrophysicists Dr. Wanda Díaz Merced and Dr. Stavros Katsenayvos, as well as scientists at MIT, Caltech, and around the globe, believed in Albert Einstein’s theory about ripples in spacetime. Could they be detected on Earth?
This Radiolab animation introduces The Interferometer, a giant gravitational wave catcher with two laser-filled, mile-long arms. “It’s a journey that takes us through space and time and doubt.” And when it was finally built… bloop!
Take that journey with Dr. Wanda Díaz Merced and the corresponding Terrestrials podcast episode below.
The featured song was written and performed by Alan Goffinski, with illustrations and animation by Stephanie Obyrne. Lulu Miller hosts. The Terrestrials podcast is included in the Radiolab for Kids audio collection.
Watch these videos next on TKSST:
• LIGO & The First Observation of Gravitational Waves
• Gravitational Waves Explained Using Stick Figures
• A physical demonstration of gravitational waves
• The Eclipse That Made Einstein Famous
• General relativity & why GPS wouldn’t work if we didn’t know about it
Bonus: The Blind Astronomer of Nova Scotia and more videos about sounds.
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