Episode #6 of the course “Strangest Things in Space”
First predicted by Albert Einstein in 1916, gravity or gravitational waves are a part of his theory of general relativity. They are disturbances or ripples in the curvature of the space-time continuum created by the movement of matter. According to the First Law of Thermodynamics, which states that neither matter nor energy can be created or destroyed, matter from the beginning of time should still be rippling through the cosmos, albeit at less strength.
Gravity waves were discovered in the cosmic microwave background (CMB) in 2014 as part of the Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarization 2 (BICEP2) experiment. CMB is the thermal radiation left over from the Big Bang, thereby making it the oldest light in the universe.
What makes gravitational waves so interesting is that they are believed to be unaltered as they travel through the vast expanses of space. Therefore, we could theoretically rely on them to carry messages from the far corners of the universe, greatly expanding our knowledge in the process.
Additionally, although the CMB is the first light in the universe, it took over 300,000 years for it to appear after the Big Bang; the universe was simply too hot and too viscous to allow light to move anywhere before then. Gravity waves, on the other hand, started the moment the Big Bang happened, thus giving us a glimpse further into the past than the CMB can. In essence, gravity waves peel back the curtain on the first second of the universe.
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