Astronomy’s New Messengers

Marcia Bartusiak joins Kip Thorne, Laura Danly and Rainer Weiss to demonstrate how two observatories on opposite sides of the country, called LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory), may open a new window on observing the cosmos—one based not in light but in gravity. Scientists have embarked on this joint experiment, seeking whispers of far-away violence—like the collision between distant black holes—rippling through the cosmos. It’s taken nearly a century, but technology has finally caught up to Einstein’s brilliance. His 1916 General Theory of Relativity predicted the existence of gravitational waves—undulations in the very fabric of space and time—and LIGO researchers are now poised to detect them.

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Original Program Date: June 4, 2010
MODERATOR: Marcia Bartusiak
PARTICIPANTS: Andrea Lommen, Kip S. Thorne, Laura Danly, Rai Weiss

The Sound of the future 00:00

Marcia Bartusiak’s Introduction 00:40

The history of gravity. 05:55

Participant Introductions. 08:02

How did we get here from the past? 12:11

The universal rate of acceleration. 18:43

What drew Einstein to rethink Newton’s ideas. 24:30

What Einstein predicted. 29:28

What happens when two black holes collide? 35:35

Stumbling on to a binary pulsar 40:30

Why do you study something that doesn’t exist? 46:10

Measuring the strain of the universe. 53:35

LIGOS the gravitational tape measure. 59:35

When do you hear the gravity wave? 01:09:30

What are the new surprises to look forward to? 01:16:00

What would you expect space time to look like when black holes collide? 01:22:25
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