Admittedly, I am late on the whole gravitational waves discovery, however I think that this video above is probably the best explanation as to what gravitational waves are and how scientists actually managed to find evidence for the waves.
The way that scientists actually discovered the waves fascinated me most in all the of news surrounding gravitational waves. Einstein discovered, through the use of math, that these waves do exist and that they stretch and compress any object that they pass through so we are human rubber bands. Well, not really. We will never see this stretching and compressing as it occurs at an atomic level, less than an atomic diameter. Which, is nice to know, because I don’t want to be constantly stretched and compressed like a rubber band. Now even if they are proven in math we have never had evidence of these waves in real life until now. And how they discovered it is fascinating.
They took lasers positioned tangent to each other in two, 2.5-mile-long evacuated pipes and had them combine to create an interference pattern that highly depends on the distance between the two lasers. Now, what allowed them to find the gravitational wave is as the wave passed by the earth it stretched one laser and compressed the other altering the interference pattern they created when combined backed together. When the wave passed the earth, it altered the interference pattern and alas we have evidence of gravitational waves. The device that they developed to discover the waves is truly amazing.
Now I’m just waiting for someone to make a song out of the sound byte that the collision of 2 black holes made leading to the discovery of waves.