It has been a monumental decade for experimental physicists, as discoveries are being reported by the dozen from all corners of the planet with some of the most complicated and intricately designed laboratories in the history of humankind. The orders of magnitude that separate the masses of the phenomena that are being studied are gigantic; with the Higgs boson of the order of 10-30 Kilograms to the mass of a black hole, averaging at 1030. That’s a size difference of 1000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 (that’s 60 zeros. We counted). The latest in these series of fascinating discoveries has been an announcement that has confirmed what science has predicted for a long while: The discovery of gravitational waves. First predicted by Einstein exactly a century ago, it has taken humanity this long to finally construct an experiment intricate enough to capture the data necessary to validate Einstein’s predictions. So, one would expect that this would be an extremely complicated experiment that would take a couple of PhD’s and a superhuman IQ to even begin to understand. But, at the fundamental level, this is an experiment that can be replicated at home! In this article, we demystify the physics that goes behind detecting gravitational waves and the seminal work that goes behind it.
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