Tiny ripples in the fabric of space-time known as gravitational waves, first proposed by Einstein 100 years ago, have been directly observed for the first time. Scientists this week confirmed they had detected the waves caused by two black holes merging about 1.3 billion years ago.
Einstein has therefore created the whole new field of Gravitational Wave Astronomy. It lets us see everything from the heart of a black hole, all the way back to the very start of time itself. Time, as we currently see it at least.
In 1915, Einstein, as part of his General Theory of Relativity, predicted gravitational waves in extremely violent events such as collisions between black holes or neutron stars. But they had never been directly observed until now.
Einstein lived in three countries before he was 17, and held three different nationalities. He left his first wife to marry his first cousin. When he won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921, his ideas on relativity were still questionable, so he was given it for a different theory. He spoke about relativity in his acceptance speech none the less.
Einstein was the most influential physicist of the 20th century. Now that we’ve seen his ripples in space-time, he’s the most influential in the 21st century as well. He’s travelling through time himself.