Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Gravitational Waves Detected


Australian astronomers involved in the detection of gravitational waves discuss the significance of the discovery 100 years after Einstein predicted them.

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“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 violent event yet recorded – the collision of two solar mass black holes.

“The energy released in this binary black hole collision was equivalent to 10 billion billion billion times the world’s nuclear arsenal. What’s even more fascinating is that this event did not (and does not) emit electromagnetic waves or neutrinos. The only way to observe it was with space–time change sensors – our giant laser interferometers.

“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.”

Professor David McClelland is Director of the Centre for Gravitational Physics at the Australian National University. He is a member of the Australian Consortium for Interferometric Gravitational Astronomy (ACIGA), which contributed to the gravitational waves discovery.


“The discovery confirms Einstein's prediction that gravitational waves exist, validating one of the pillars of modern physics. It confirms that black holes...

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