God can I just talk about the neutron star collision real quick. It’s just… when I was born there were only like 3 exoplanets. The discovery of GRB Afterglow is less than a month older than I. We hadn’t observed the effects of the supermassive black hole in the center of our galaxy. We didn’t know what Pluto looked like. We didn’t have the ISS yet.
In twenty years we’ve learned so much. In twenty years we put rovers on Mars. We found water on Mars! Liquid water! We’ve found thousands of exoplanets. We got to see what Pluto looked like with New Horizons. We’ve mapped the stars in the center of our galaxy and we’ve proved that there’s a supermassive black hole there.
But god, the most incredible thing was gravitational waves. In 2015 LIGO recorded the first one, just a small little blip lasting a fraction of a second. But that’s all that was needed. We proved Einstein right nearly 100 years later. And then the one that just came out. I can’t even describe how incredible it is. For over 100 seconds we recorded these waves, massive waves. We were able to triangulate the source.
We saw it. In a moment of planetwide esprit de corps we saw it. We saw the gamma ray burst. We saw the afterglow. Two neutron stars, no bigger than manhattan, colliding at nearly the speed of light some 130 million years ago. And we saw it. We took pictures of it.
And look at all the papers that’ll be coming out of this. Some 3,500 people were involved with this. 3,500 people, from over 70 observatories and detectors all over the world, using hundreds of instruments, made this happen. Yesterday 40 papers were published, along with a flurry of press conferences and jovial announcements.
In a moment, our species graduated from electromagnetic observing to being able to detect ripples in the very fabric of spacetime.
In twenty years, in a cosmic moment, we’ve stretched our legs and are beginning to take our first clumsy footsteps into the universe around us.