Scientist have announced the detection of gravity waves. I’d like to go on and on about how incredibly cool this is and the extensive impact this will have on astronomy but it would pale in comparison to this post so I’ll just direct you to it. I’ve posted links to Phil Plait’s Bad Astronomy blog on Slate before but this is one of his best. He does a wonderful job explaining what gravitational waves are and how scientist detected them. As you’ll see in the post they are actually incredibly hard to detect and it required a pretty big feat of innovation and engineering to find them. But he also goes into detail about the significance of the detection itself and how the now proven detection method adds a new field of vision for astronomers. Then he follows that up with a glimpse into gravity wave detection projects in the works and the increases in their sensitivity levels from what we have now. Everything is broken into topics, each one logically leading into the next, annotated with helpful graphics and media. A well crafted piece of science journalism on pure technical merits. But what makes this one of his best post is his level of excitement clearly comes through in his writing.
I remember reading about gravity waves when I was a kid and how they were theoretical and perhaps undetectable. While there were ideas being kicked around to build these detectors no projects were actively in the works. Years later the detectors have been built and we’ve found what Einstein postulated all those years ago. Scientific discovery, especially in the field of astronomy, often has to play out over years or generations or even eons. Our lifetimes are fleeting moments on a cosmic scale so to be around to appreciate it when great discoveries are made is pretty cool. I didn’t need Phil to tell me that but I’m glad he’s here to remind me of just how cool it really is and to do a MUCH better job of sharing it than I ever could.