Relativity’s wacky predictions for how matter, space, and time behave have been proved correct, 100 years straight.
And if recent rumours are true, scientists have finally detected gravitational waves—shockwaves rippling through space and time itself.
Albert Einstein first proposed the existence of gravitational waves 100 years ago, and directly observing them would provide the final vindication for his masterwork: the theory of general relativity.
Tomorrow, we’ll find out if Einstein is right one last time. Researchers from Caltech and MIT will convene for a press conference where they may announce that they’ve picked up the tiny wobble of gravitational waves produced by two colliding black holes.
Einstein wasn’t always seen as the genius he is today. When he first proposed his trippy ideas about relativity, some scholars staged protests. Others badmouthed Einstein in the press, decrying both his dangerous ideas and Jewish identity.
His bombshell studies reworked physics from its foundations. Einstein’s universe plays fast and loose with notions of position and speed—except for light, which always zooms through a vacuum at 300 million meters per second.
Space and time are stirred together into a four-dimensional molasses called spacetime that matter can stretch and warp. And moving matter must follow spacetime’s curves – a hidden geometry that we experience as gravity.
It sounds like nonsense. But for the last 100 years, experiments have shown over and over: Einstein’s right.