NASA Logo, National Aeronautics and Space Administration
FIgure 4

The freest of free-falls

  • By Ira Thorpe
  • June 8, 2016
  • Comments Off on The freest of free-falls

It’s hard to get used to the change of pace.  Scientists have been laboring for half a century to detect gravitational waves from astrophysical sources. In 1966, Joseph Weber published the first results from a device he had invented to detect gravitational waves. Weber would later famously claim to have … Continue Reading →


Diagram of Hulse/Taylor's binary system

We Knew That Already

The Advanced LIGO group announced the first direct detection of gravitational waves on February 11, 2016 – it was a momentous day for physics and astrophysics. But the way some news outlets have reported it, saying things like “this proves Einstein was right,” sounds a little bit off to me: … Continue Reading →


Test Masses

Release the beasts!

  • By Ira Thorpe
  • February 29, 2016
  • Comments Off on Release the beasts!

Captain A. G. Lamplugh, a British pilot from the early days of aviation once famously said “Aviation in itself is not inherently dangerous. But to an even greater degree than the sea, it is terribly unforgiving of any carelessness, incapacity or neglect.” Space flight is less forgiving still. A single … Continue Reading →


Of the Unicorn

Chasing Unicorns

Although the incident happened nearly ten years ago, I still remember it clearly.  I was a newly-minted NASA scientist and was attending a workshop about future space-based scientific facilities. At a coffee break I started chatting with some other young scientists, one of whom asked what I worked on. I … Continue Reading →


General Relativity Timeline

Testing General Relativity

Everyone seems to want to take shot at discrediting Einstein and his theories. I used to volunteer to answer questions for an Ask an Astrophysicist service, and nearly every week I would get a question or two that started with, “I have a new theory…” And at least half of … Continue Reading →


Spacetime Curvature

100 Years of General Relativity

  • By Barb Mattson
  • November 25, 2015
  • Comments Off on 100 Years of General Relativity

This week is the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s theory of general relativity. On November 25, 1915, Einstein published the field equations of gravity which are the heart of the general relativity. Sure, you’ve heard of Einstein – he was a smart guy. And you’ve probably heard of general relativity, but … Continue Reading →


Modeling Gravity Waves

Doing Astronomy With Our Eyes Closed

  • By Ira Thorpe
  • November 16, 2015
  • Comments Off on Doing Astronomy With Our Eyes Closed

In space, no one can hear you scream. Any sci-fi buff worth their dilithium crystals knows why: sound requires a medium such as air or water in which to propagate and empty space is well, empty. But what if I told you that there are waves that can travel through … Continue Reading →


NASA Logo, National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Goddard