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How Do Gravitational Waves Really Work?

The original historical documents related to Albert Einstein's prediction of the existence of gravitational waves are seen at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem on Feb. 11, 2016.
Sebastian Scheiner
/
AP
The original historical documents related to Albert Einstein's prediction of the existence of gravitational waves are seen at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem on Feb. 11, 2016.

A couple weeks ago, astronomers announced they had detected gravitational waves from a "kilonova" (I hate that name but we'll wait for another blog post to explain why).

A few weeks before that, the Nobel Prize was awarded for the work that went into LIGO, the gravitational wave observatory.

So gravitational waves — ripples in the fabric of space-time — are a big deal in the world of science. But how, exactly, do they work — and how, exactly, can you learn about them in under four minutes?

Thanks to folks at Minute Physics and The Kids Should See This you can now get the answers you crave so desperately — just watch this video.

Happy waving.


Adam Frank is a co-founder of the 13.7 blog, an astrophysics professor at the University of Rochester and author of the upcoming bookLight of the Stars: Alien Worlds and the Fate of the Earth. His scientific studies are funded by the National Science Foundation, NASA and the Department of Education. You can keep up with more of what Adam is thinking onFacebook and Twitter:@adamfrank4

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Adam Frank was a contributor to the NPR blog 13.7: Cosmos & Culture. A professor at the University of Rochester, Frank is a theoretical/computational astrophysicist and currently heads a research group developing supercomputer code to study the formation and death of stars. Frank's research has also explored the evolution of newly born planets and the structure of clouds in the interstellar medium. Recently, he has begun work in the fields of astrobiology and network theory/data science. Frank also holds a joint appointment at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics, a Department of Energy fusion lab.