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Listen to the Gravitational Waves From Merger of Black Holes

Werner Benger
NASA Blueshift - Flickr
Numerical simulation of two merging black holes performed by the Albert Einstein Institute in Germany: what this rendition shows through colors is the degree of perturbation of the spacetime fabric, the so-called gravitational wave.

Last week a team of scientists at LIGO, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, announced they successfully recorded gravitational waves resulting from two black holes merging into one. The existence of these waves, otherwise known as ripples in the fabric of space-time, were first proposed by Albert Einstein in 1916.

Credit Emily Woodbury
A visual of the gravitational wave signal recorded by LIGO.

Phil Kaaret, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Iowa, says that this discovery “opens a new way of looking at the universe,” and that “it’s just beginning of discovery.”

He emphasizes the significance by comparing it to the first time Galileo Galilei looked through a telescope. “Hopefully we don’t know where we’re going."

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Kaaret about what the LIGO revelation means for our future in space and for our knowledge of black holes.

Joining the second half of the show are Associated Press reporter Ryan Foley and Des Moines-based attorney Ryan Koopmans. Foley shares information about the federal investigation into the University of Iowa athletics program, and Koopmans talks about Justice Antonin Scalia's death and the impact of an Iowa Supreme Court case.

Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River