Scientists are set to make a major announcement Thursday on efforts to pinpoint the existence of gravitational waves, or ripples of space and time that transport energy across the universe.
If gravitational waves have been spotted, it would mark one of the biggest scientific discoveries of our time, filling in a major gap in our understanding of how the universe was born.
Rumors began circulating last month that scientists at the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory, or LIGO, were writing up a paper on gravitational waves they had discovered using US-based detectors.
“My earlier rumor about LIGO has been confirmed by independent sources. Stay tuned! Gravitational waves may have been discovered!! Exciting,” said a message on Twitter from Arizona State University cosmologist Lawrence Krauss, who does not work with LIGO. His words sparked a firestorm of speculation.
The event brings “Together scientists from Caltech, MIT and the LIGO Scientific Collaboration to update the scientific community on efforts to detect them,” a National Science Foundation statement read. They will provide “a status report on the effort to detect gravitational waves – or ripples in the fabric of spacetime – using the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory,” it said.
LIGO is a dual set of identical detectors built by scientists at MIT and Caltech to pick up “Incredibly tiny vibrations from passing gravitational waves,” said the statement.
Explore further: Gravitational wave rumors ripple through science world.