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In 1916, shortly after publishing his theory of general relativity, Albert Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves – warps in space time caused by accelerating matter that ripple outward at the speed of light. However, he believed these ripples would be so slight as to be undetectable, before eventually abandoning the concept altogether. But following decades of scientific developments suggesting their existence, as well as technological innovations making their detection possible, in 2015 a team of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the California Institute of Technology recorded humanity’s first direct observation of the phenomena.
Created by the US filmmakers Sarah Klein and Tom Mason in collaboration with the MIT School of Science, this documentary tracks how the US physicist Rai Weiss, now professor emeritus at MIT, stood on the shoulders of his fields’ biggest giant to prove the existence of gravitational waves, a century after Einstein had predicted them. Relaying an inspiring story of imagination, ingenuity and dedication giving rise to a monumental breakthrough, the documentary reflects on how scientific ideas travel – often circuitously – across generations.
Building ‘bigger and better’ has pushed cosmology forward. Can it take it any further?
Watch the elegant flow of a sheep herd, seen from the sky above Israel
How would a piano sound on Mars? Embark on an interplanetary sonic journey
Design and fashion
Gear up for a stylish celebration of vintage motorcycle design
An ode to the humble rotifer – one of nature’s simplest and strangest creatures
Check in to the Hilbert Hotel, and learn why some infinities are bigger than others
Cognition and intelligence
How a ‘periodic table’ of animal intelligence could help to root out human bias
The city as an emergent life form, with architecture as the skeleton and roads as veins
How sky-high dreams launched one man’s audacious life in homemade rocketry