On the morning of February 11th 2016, people around the world congregated in conference rooms to watch a press conference that would change the face of modern physics.
Months earlier, rumors started flying that the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory, or LIGO, had at last found something. Though such a monumental discovery is kept quiet until the scientists involved are completely confident in their analysis, the overabundance of closed-door meetings and irregular busyness of LIGO scientists indicated something was afoot. (At Northwestern’s center for astrophysical research, the champagne glasses outside the viewing room that February morning were also a dead giveaway.)
I am a scientist in the LIGO collaboration and knew well what was to be announced, but excitement still pumped through my veins as I headed to the viewing room.