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Faculty Book

Einstein’s Unfinished Symphony

Marcia Bartusiak  |  June 2017

The Story of a Gamble, Two Black Holes, and a New Age of Astronomy

In February 2016, astronomers announced that they had verified the last remaining prediction of Einstein’s general theory of relativity—vibrations in space-time, called gravitational waves. Humanity can now tune in to a cosmic orchestra. We have heard the chirp of two black holes dancing toward a violent union. We will hear the cymbal crashes from exploding stars, the periodic drumbeats from swiftly rotating pulsars, and maybe even the echoes from the Big Bang itself.

Marcia Bartusiak was one of the first to report on the new generation of observatories, showing the motivations of the detectors’ creators and the gamble they made to prove Einstein right when all other attempts had failed. She traces the quest of astronomers to build the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors, the most accurate measuring devices humans have created, and the discovery of gravitational waves, revealing the brilliance, personalities, and luck required to start a new age of astronomy.


About the author:
Marcia Bartusiak is professor of the practice, graduate program in science writing, at MIT, and the award-winning author of six previous books, including most recently The Day We Found the Universe.