Detection of gravitational waves hailed as "biggest scientific breakthrough of the century"
Scientists in California have announced the discovery of gravitational waves, proving a prediction Albert Einstein made a century ago.
The discovery marks a major breakthrough and comes after half a century of attempts to prove the predictions of Einstein.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we have detected gravitational waves. We did it,” said David Reitze, director of the Laser Iterferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO).
The discovery will enable scientists to learn more about the events immediately following the Big Bang, potentially explaining how the universe expanded.
Gravitational waves are said to be elusive ripples in the fabric of space and time created by every massive object in the universe.
Catastrophic events, such as a collision between two black holes, can create waves that spread out across the universe.
A passing wave essentially stretches space in one direction and causes it to shrink in another.
One member of the international team said it was "the biggest scientific breakthrough of the century", and more significant that the discovery i recent years of the Higgs boson "God particle”
The detection of the waves may also allow them to unravel the mysteries of dark matter, the invisible material that makes up around 80% of the universe.
LIGO researchers have been using a device called a laser interferometer to detect the space-time ripples.
They say it is like a microphone that converts them into electrical signals.
Physics and Astronomy Professor Dr Francisco Diego says it could help explain what happened after the Big Bang:
Additional reporting INM