Albert Einstein’s gravitational waves observed for the first time

Albert Einstein. Credit: Orren Jack Turner via Wikimedia Commons

( Scientists revealed Thursday that for the first time, they have been able to directly detect the existence of gravitational waves, which were identified by renowned Jewish scientist Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity a century ago.

The discovery was announced by David Reitze, executive director of the U.S.-based Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), during a press conference in Washington, DC. Reitze said that the gravitational waves were detected on Sept. 14, 2015, by both of the twin LIGO detectors in Livingston, La., and Hanford, Wash.

Einstein’s theory stipulated that gravitational waves are produced from the merger of two black holes, a collision that has previously never been observed.

"Gravitational waves, sort of at a fundamental level, are very similar” to a pond, explained Reitze.

“In this case, the rock, is some big massive object, some accelerating object, and the surface of the pond is the space. It's basically a space. So when a big object moves and accelerates, you have two objects, orbiting around one another, it's creating these ripples that travel outward, and that's what a gravitational wave is. It's like ripples on a pond, but the ripples in this case are in space themselves,” he said.

According to estimates by LIGO scientists, the pair of observed black holes were about 29 and 36 times bigger than the mass of the sun, respectively, and their collision took place 1.3 billion years ago.

"It's a tremendously important discovery. It's something that tells us something we didn't already know, which is in this case that it's possible to have a binary black hole. We never knew that before. We know from previous work that neutron stars, which turn into pulsars, can be binary, that they can be in pairs. We never knew for sure that they would be stars that could turn into black holes in pairs and then merge together to form this coalescing black hole and make this huge burst of gravitational energy to come out. So this is a spectacular new result for astronomy," said John Mather, a senior scientist at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Reuters reported.

On Thursday, Hebrew University of Jerusalem also held a news conference to unveil documents related to Einstein's gravitational waves theory. Israeli real estate entrepreneur and New City Ltd. Chairman Dror Halevi, however, criticized Israeli society’s attitude toward the famous scientist.

“In 2015, the world marked the 100-year anniversary of the theory of relativity through celebrations, but [in Israel Einstein] didn’t even make the school curriculum…We’re talking about one of the people who most influenced mankind…As a the most important Jew in the world we need to have him among us,” Halevi said, as translated from the Hebrew news website Walla.

Posted on February 12, 2016 .