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Nearly a hundred years ago, Einstein published the General Theory of Relativity, which predicted the existence of black holes and gravitational waves. Despite much circumstantial evidence gathered by astronomers, these bizarre deviations from Newton's theory of gravity have had no firm experimental confirmation until now.

This year's Nobel Prize in Physics went to the founders of the LIGO experiment for the detection of gravitational waves from a pair of orbiting black holes, verifying Einstein’s predictions—one of the most exciting scientific discoveries of the past fifty years. What are gravitational waves and how were they detected? How have Cornell researchers used supercomputers to establish that the waves did in fact come from black holes? How does this experiment confirm that space and time are distorted by strong gravity, just as Einstein predicted? And why is the recent detection of waves from colliding neutron stars causing such a stir?

Saul Teukolsky explained gravitational waves and other phenomena during his Bethe Lecture on March 28, 2018. Teukolsky is the Hans A. Bethe Professor of Physics and Astrophysics.


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