July 28, 2016 6:11 pm

This Friday, when we say, “This changes everything” we really mean it!

An image illustrating gravitational waves created by the collision of two black holes. Credit: Henze/NASA.

Visualization of gravitational waves. Credit: Henze/NASA.

The phrase, “This changes everything” is one of the most overused phrases in the world. It’s been used by everyone from marketers shilling a new packaging design to TV newscasters describing a change to Facebook’s algorithm.

But I feel pretty safe in saying that the news we all heard on September 14, 2015 really did change everything, ushering in a new age in scientific research, exploration and discovery.

It’s the day that the LIGO team announced that they had in fact discovered gravitational waves.

Scientists have been searching for these things for 50 years, but Einstein actually predicted them 100 years ago. The scientists at LIGO have been dismissed as crazy. The amount of money spent over the years, estimated at $1 billion, seemed wasted.

But now, we have a new tool for understanding our universe, possibly gaining insights back to the instant after the Big Bang itself.

Until now, we could only perceive our universe through light.

Gravitational waves are not light. According to Dr. Janna Levin, a new StarTalk All-Stars host who was “merely” a guest back then at StarTalk Live! LIGO and the Black Hole Blues, “This is not light…It is something fundamentally different. It’s like we’ve gotten the soundtrack.”

Don’t take my word for it. Listen to this week’s new StarTalk Radio podcast, which features not one, but three astrophysicists: our host, Neil deGrasse Tyson, the aforementioned Dr. Janna Levin, and Dr. Nergis Mavalvala, the Associate Department Head of Physics at MIT and one of the astrophysicists working at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory.

Nergis was one of the team that made the discovery, and Janna has recently written the book on the quest, Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space.

Together, with a little help from co-host Eugene Mirman and returning comedy guest Michael Showalter, these three astrophysicists explain exactly what gravitational waves are, the process by which LIGO detected them, and the decades long journey to detect a motion 10,000 times smaller than the nucleus of an atom, which began 1.3 billion light years away from Earth, and can give us insights into the very fabric of spacetime itself.

Join us for part one of our show, recorded live this past May at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, NJ, at 7 pm EDT this Friday, July 29 on iTunes Podcasts, Google Play Music, SoundCloud, Stitcher, TuneIn, and right here on our website.

That’s it for now. Keep Looking Up!
–Jeffrey Simons

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