StarTalk Live! LIGO and the Black Hole Blues (Part 1)

On Stage at the Count Basie Theatre. From left: Eugene Mirman, Dr. Nergis Mavalvala, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Dr. Janna Levin, Michael Showalter. Credit: Elliot Severn.

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About This Episode

On February 11, 2016 the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory reported that it had discovered gravitational waves, heralding a new field of scientific study. Just a few months later, host Neil deGrasse Tyson and co-host Eugene Mirman took to the stage at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, NJ to explore that discovery with the help of LIGO astrophysicist Dr. Nergis Mavalvala, cosmologist and StarTalk All-Stars host Dr. Janna Levin, and comedian and returning StarTalk Live! guest Michael Showalter. Join us for an evening full of surprises, starting with Neil getting schooled in turn by both Nergis, on the difference between gravity waves and gravitational waves, and Janna, on why, even though, “in space nobody can hear you scream,” you would hear two black holes colliding if you were close enough – just before you were spaghettified, that is. In Part One, you’ll learn exactly how LIGO is able to measure a wave motion 10,000 times smaller than the nucleus of an atom which began 1.3 billion light years away from Earth, and why it’s critical to have two different facilities, one in Louisiana and one in Washington, working in tandem. You’ll also find out why it took the LIGO team half a century and a billion dollars to discover something Einstein predicted nearly 100 years before, how unexpected the discovery was, and why it took them so long to make the announcement, when they’d actually recorded the event on September 14, 2015.

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