We all just enjoyed the detection of gravitational waves due to two colliding black holes. David Ritz Finkelstein, who passed away in January, was the first, in 1958, [to have] identified Schwarzschild's solution of the [general relativity] equations corresponding to a region in space from which nothing escapes. This compelled Penrose and Wheeler to believe that those things actually do exist. He is of course also known for the related Eddington Finkelstein coordinates.
This was the start of a quest in a world of exotic structures, and his travels have inspired many scientists, and continue to do so… David was a proper maverick scientist, and this statement is intended in entirely positive terms. Not only his outstanding intellect, but also his integrity and generosity were exceptional… A truly original thinker, and equally so, a truly original human has passed away.
Bob Coecke, Foundational Questions Institute (FQXi)
It took nearly 1.5 billion years to arrive. It was here for less than two hundred milliseconds. And its presence moved a pair of 2.5-mile vacuum tubes a distance of 1/400th the diameter of a proton. Yet despite its incredibly short stay and the microscopic movement, it is enough for scientists to claim one of the most significant discoveries in the world of physics this century.
For the first time ever, a gravitational wave has been observed. A team of global researchers announced the finding on Thursday, February 11, 2016. The discovery comes 100 years after Albert Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves in his theory of general relativity.
Gravitational waves are ripples in the fabric of the universe, which bend and distort space-time. They are produced during violent cosmic disturbances.
In this case, the observed wave was created when two black holes collided approximately a billion and a half years ago, sending a ripple hurtling through space at the speed of light. It arrived on September 14, 2015, and was detected by LIGO – the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory – a National Science Foundation-funded physics experiment that has searched for waves for more than a decade.
Georgia Tech’s team of researchers includes Professors Laura Cadonati, Deirdre Shoemaker, and School of Physics Chair Pablo Laguna (pictured).