A team of scientists announced on Thursday that they had heard and recorded the sound of two black holes colliding a billion light-years away, a fleeting chirp that fulfilled the last prediction of Einstein’s general theory of relativity.Frankly, it would have been more surprising if they had failed to confirm or even better yet, refuted Einstein. Science advances by finding the exceptions to existing knowledge, as Einsteins Relativity was an advance over the simple physics of Newton.
That faint rising tone, physicists say, is the first direct evidence of gravitational waves, the ripples in the fabric of space-time that Einstein predicted a century ago. (Listen to it here.) It completes his vision of a universe in which space and time are interwoven and dynamic, able to stretch, shrink and jiggle. And it is a ringing confirmation of the nature of black holes, the bottomless gravitational pits from which not even light can escape, which were the most foreboding (and unwelcome) part of his theory.
More generally, it means that a century of innovation, testing, questioning and plain hard work after Einstein imagined it on paper, scientists have finally tapped into the deepest register of physical reality, where the weirdest and wildest implications of Einstein’s universe become manifest.
If replicated by future experiments, that simple chirp, which rose to the note of middle C before abruptly stopping, seems destined to take its place among the great sound bites of science, ranking with Alexander Graham Bell’s “Mr. Watson — come here” and Sputnik’s first beeps from orbit.That's going to be a difficult instrument to play.