Scientists have finally proved a key part of Einstein's general theory of relativity, 100 years after his prediction. The National Science Foundation, Caltech and MIT have validated the existence of gravitational waves in spacetime.
Using two LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory) detectors, they measured atomic-scale differences on September 14th, 2015 that point to the collision of black holes 1.3 billion years ago, which triggered gravity ripples that only just reached Earth.
Expect more breakthroughs like this in the future, too. This gear will likely find more and more evidence as researchers can crank up the sensitivity. Plus with plans to add an additional LIGO detector in India, it will become easier to pinpoint the exact source of gravitational waves.
The impact of this discovery will be felt throughout the universe and how we study it. Up until this point, researchers have observed the cosmos through just light and other forms of electromagnetic radiation, which can only tell you half the story of what's going on. However, gravitational waves can tell you so much more, like what kind of cataclysmic events happened in the past like black hole collisions or supernovae.
Simply put, scientists no longer have to make educated guesses on what happened in the past. They can actually find out.