Albert Einstein's 100-year-old theory of general relativity has been confirmed by the detection of gravitational waves, scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics reported Thursday. The researchers observed a warp of space-time generated through the collision of two black holes, which marked the first time scientists have detected gravitational waves.
The finding could change the way we understand astronomy and the universe. "There is a novel in it — there is no doubt," said the Institute's Professor Karsten Danzmann, likening the find to the discovery of the Higgs particle or the determination of the structure of DNA.
Professor Stephen Hawking, an expert on black holes, reinforced the seriousness of the finding. "Apart from testing [Einstein's theory of] general relativity, we could hope to see black holes through the history of the universe. We may even see relics of the very early universe during the Big Bang at some of the most extreme energies possible," Hawking told BBC News.
"The information carried on the gravitational wave is exactly the same as when the system sent it out; and that is unusual in astronomy. We can't see light from whole regions of our own galaxy because of the dust that is in the way, and we can't see the early part of the Big Bang because the Universe was opaque to light earlier than a certain time," Professor Bernard Schutz of Cardiff University explained. "With gravitational waves, we do expect eventually to see the Big Bang itself."