Scientists in the US on Thursday held a press conference announcing the discovery of gravitational waves, a phenomenon first described 100 years ago by German physcist Albert Einstein in his theory of General Relativity.
The discovery is the result of an experiment by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory(LIGO), whose Executive Director David Reitze was the first to break the news at an event broadcast live on Youtube:
LIGO‘s experiment was meant to spot the shock waves produced by the collision of two black holes at the speed of light, a cosmic phenomenon of gigantic magnitude thought to cause ripples in the fabric of space, and which has never been effectively measured since it was theorized by Einstein.
Echoed by scientists across social media, the news had many science enthusiasts, as well as professional physicists and astronomers, excited even before the official announcement.
There had been wide speculation online before the official press conference since an email seemingly showing a LIGO researcher sharing positive results was leaked last month, leading many to speculate about a possible announcement.
LIGO said the discovery was in fact made on September 14, 2015, after two of the participating laboratories confirmed they had the same readings.
Upon hearing the news, scientists around the globe expressed their joy and astonishment at what many have described as the start of a new approach to the study of the universe.
Many scientists also used the occasion to pay tribute to Albert Einstein, whom many say has been vindicated after almost a century of research.
Other members of the scientific community saluted their colleagues at LIGO and celebrated the discovery by filming themselves doing the "chirp" sound that characterized the measurements of the observatory’s research, serving as the strongest evidence for the existence of the waves.
Many were tweeting their videos using the hashtag #chirpForLIGO.
There was excitement among uninitiated users as well, though many were still left wondering what the real significance of the discovery truly was.