Congratulations to the LIGO Scientific Collaboration on its historic discovery, the observation of gravitational waves! Your friends and colleagues at Physics Illinois are celebrating the spacetime ripples with you!
For the first time, scientists have observed ripples in the fabric of spacetime called gravitational waves, arriving at the earth from a cataclysmic event in the distant universe. This confirms a major prediction of Albert Einstein’s 1915 general theory of relativity and opens an unprecedented new window onto the cosmos.
Stuart Shapiro, a professor of physics and astronomy at Illinois, was appointed an NCSA research scientist by NCSA founder Larry Smarr two decades ago. A leading expert in the theory that underpinned the search for gravitational waves, Shapiro has developed software tools that can simulate on NCSA supercomputers like Blue Waters the very binary black hole merger and gravitational waves now detected by LIGO. Shapiro said he is thrilled by the discovery.
Shapiro comments on LIGO's discovery: "This presents the strongest confirmation yet of Einstein's theory of general relativity and the cleanest evidence to date of the existence of black holes. The gravitational waves that LIGO measures can only be generated by merging black holes – exotic relativistic objects from which nothing, including light, can escape from their interior."