Speed Reads


Physicist Brian Greene clearly, joyfully explains gravitational waves to Stephen Colbert, and us

If you have Brian Greene as your teacher, count yourself lucky. The Columbia professor of physics and mathematics was Stephen Colbert's guest on Wednesday's Late Show, and if you are iffy about the details of the recent breakthrough on detecting of gravitational waves, Greene explained the science and ramifications clearly and enthusiastically, using graphics, a model of the laser device the scientists used to prove Albert Einstein's 100-year-old theory right, and sounds.

The visualizations are fascinating — bowling balls on a trampoline, gyrating Earth — but it's the sound of two black holes colliding that got to Colbert. "Is God Bugs Bunny?" he asked, laughing. "Hey, man, big things come in little packages," Greene responded. "Those sounds are really telling us things about the universe that we have no other way of discerning. Those kinds of sounds are the future of studying the cosmos." To have your mind blown, or at least tickled, watch below. Peter Weber