Physicists in Aspen react to groundbreaking discovery

Feb 11, 2016

A simulation of two the scenario where two black holes can create gravitational waves.
Credit Simulating eXtreme Spacetimes

Thursday’s announcement about the discovery of gravitational waves is getting getting extra special attention in Aspen, where scientists are gathered at the Aspen Physics Center for an astrophysics conference.

You can actually hear what such waves sound like. Scientist Ilya Mandel makes this sound to demonstrate: “Mmmm-rrh!” Mandel is a professor at the University of Birmingham in England and has worked on the project. He is at the Physics Center this week and explains the sound of the waves this way. “So you have this first rumbling low frequency sound and then the amplitude goes up, and the frequency goes up, as the two black holes get closer and closer to each other. Mmmmm-rrh!”

Mandel says the Aspen Physics Center helped play a role in the discovery, thanks to sessions held over the years on spotting such a frequency and and how to interpret one.