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Gravitational Waves Detected

Australian astronomers involved in the detection of gravitational waves discuss the significance of the discovery

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"For the first time, we’ve been able to observe a gravitational wave, created 1.3 billion years ago by the collision of two massive black holes. This observation confirms that gravitational waves do exist. It is a moment that will be remembered for 1000 years.

Sensing for the first time these rumbles in space–time will go down as one the major events in the history of physics, made possible by a close-knit, world-wide collaboration using instruments whose sensitivities are approaching limits imposed by quantum mechanics. And this is just the beginning.

With this detection we have shifted from the realms of theory to the beginning of a new astronomy. Hopefully this first observation will accelerate the construction of a global network of detectors to enable accurate source location for multi-messenger astronomy.

This verification of Einstein’s general relativity in the non-linear strong gravity regime was done with massive instruments whose amazing sensitivities approach limits imposed by quantum mechanics – a fact Einstein would no doubt have found amusing.

We built the most massive scientific instruments in the world and made them so sensitive that they approach limits set by quantum mechanics. On September 14 last year, they directly detected for the first time the weakest signals in the universe – gravitational waves – generated in the most...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.