"Ladies and gentlemen, we have detected gravitational waves"
The difficulty in addressing yesterday’s news on the discovery of gravitational waves is two fold: it’s a bit complicated and it – the universe – is somewhat on the large side to fully understand it.
However, scientists in Washington DC assembled at The National Press Club yesterday, brimming and grinning in excitement with Prof David Reitze announcing the gravitational wave findings to the world's press.
They were detected by the aptly named Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatories (LIGO) which are based in Washington state and Louisiana. It was the latter (Go Louisiana!) that detected the waves first which were the result of two black holes – with unimaginable mass and size (although try thinking about packing the weight of 30 suns into your journey between Nottingham and Hull) aggressively circling each other Flamenco style until one consumes the other, or two become one. Discuss.
Einstein amazingly predicted this intergalactic ripple as far back as 1916. So it is the advancements of super sensitive listening equipment one can now hear them, of which – in a wonderful example of timing - were just recently turned back on after a refurb.
So although you may be baffled by the very apparent joy and giddiness expressed by the scientists you can’t help but wonder that the universe, despite its outwardly complicated personality, is actually really rather cool, interesting and yes, big.
For those who wish to get their heads further around this, The New York Times has a rather helpful video on the science bit.