The journey of the chirp that proved Einstein right

That discovery, made secretly last fall and revealed in February, would have made a splash if it had simply been the first recording of gravitational waves, something Einstein initially conceived a century before.

But it also marked the first detection of black holes in pairs — orbiting each other before colliding to form a more massive black hole — a cataclysmic event more common than theorists ever dreamed.

For Weiss, it was the culmination of a half-century of work that began with a “thought experiment” he proposed during his one and only semester teaching general relativity. He was just groping for a tangible way to help his students understand what Einstein was talking about without getting lost in his elegant and exceptionally complicated mathematics.

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