The Absurdity of Detecting Gravitational Waves

  • Published on Jan 5, 2017
  • A head-vaporizing laser with a perfect wavelength detecting sub-proton space-time ripples.
    Huge thanks to Prof Rana Adhikari and LIGO:
    Here's how he felt when he learned about the first ever detection:
    Thanks to Patreon supporters:
    Nathan Hansen, Donal Botkin, Tony Fadell, Saeed Alghamdi, Zach Mueller, Ron Neal
    Support Veritasium on Patreon:
    A lot of videos have covered the general overview of the discovery of gravitational waves, what they are, the history of the search, when they were found but I wanted to delve into the absurd science that made the detection possible.
    When scientists want one megawatt of laser power, it's not just for fun (though I'm sure it's that too), it's because the fluctuations in the number of photons is proportional to their square root, making more powerful beams less noisy (as a fraction of their total). The smoothest mirrors were created not for aesthetic joy but because when you're trying to measure wiggles that are a fraction the width of a proton, a rough mirror surface simply won't do.
    Filmed by Daniel Joseph Files
    Music by Kevin MacLeod, "Black Vortex" (appropriately named)
    Music licensed from Epidemic Sound "Observations 2" (also appropriately named)

Comments • 6 028

  • CJ Goth
    CJ Goth 3 hours ago

    40 days to get to 10e-12? I used to get to that in the 3m vac chamber where we tested ion drives in around 3-4 days. OK, this was 10m long, not 4km, and we had a huge cryo-pump, but still ... that is a long pump down. For those interested - I worked on the T5/UK10 and UK25 ion drive programmes in the 90s.

  • BudhaXIII
    BudhaXIII Day ago


  • Peter Germanese
    Peter Germanese Day ago

    They dont wear those glasses for protection, their just cool af

  • Generation Noise
    Generation Noise 2 days ago

    crap and lies !

  • Joel Harris
    Joel Harris 2 days ago

    When we get a lot of these all around the planet, we can more accuracy know where they are coming from, A LIGO interferometer telescope.

  • LordMardur
    LordMardur 2 days ago

    A laser that can instantly vaporize your head. And you are wearing green glasses as protection? Seems legit.

  • Adaept Zulander
    Adaept Zulander 2 days ago

    Show us a second detection.

  • Dejay Rezme
    Dejay Rezme 3 days ago

    Rofl "just a smoking stump" haha. Then why are we wearing these goggles? Are these placebo goggles? :D

  • low owl
    low owl 3 days ago

    Looks like the Big Bang is a subhuman savage primate beasts' name to describe the theory of his violent flatulence . The Big Bang never happened because if all matter was . I am going to look down on all millenials with a disgusted fury and you must all likewise divert your glances and look downward in shame until I am done. If one of you foul savages so much as glances at the brightness of my glorious shadow I will systematically exterminate your entire bloodline in a series of violent strafes in the night sky. I am a barn owl, I am better than you. Do not look at me, I am too wonderful for you and I am flawless.

  • saigo87
    saigo87 3 days ago

    Maby Aliens comunicate with gravitational waves.

  • Madhusudhan S
    Madhusudhan S 4 days ago

    If we were to be sufficiently close to an event that causes gravitational waves at an amplitude of say 1 cm, would it destroy us? I visualize these waves travelling through space, as gravitation interacts with matter weakly, would the strain on matter for such a wave be high?

  • Project Start
    Project Start 5 days ago

    No absurdity whatsoever.

  • RESEARCH Flat Earth!!! Wake up

    There's no gravity it's a freaking Theory and we don't live on a damn ball flying through space.

    • Howlie kins
      Howlie kins 3 days ago

      don't bother, most flat earthers are also dumb enough to be religious too, so I doubt he believes that either.

    • Nathaniel Wilson
      Nathaniel Wilson 3 days ago

      RESEARCH Flat Earth!!! Wake up a scientific theory there is a difference you know in science a theory is the best thing you can have to prove something, have you heard of the theory of evolution it is a scientific theory as well.

    • Howlie kins
      Howlie kins 3 days ago +2

      prove it to me by jumping out your window then, if you fly, I'll believe you.

    • Ricky Ricardo
      Ricky Ricardo 5 days ago +1

      RESEARCH Flat Earth!!! Wake up some one has inhaled too many chemtrails

  • Young Tang
    Young Tang 6 days ago

    How about free Internet for the world without the government intervention? Imagine that!

  • Artemis Logic
    Artemis Logic 7 days ago

    the earth is flat, ligo was a fraud for funding

  • Oguz ilius
    Oguz ilius 8 days ago

    scientist measuring in inches very noice

  • Silica
    Silica 9 days ago

    Security vulnerability in the universe, god patch plz

  • bitch ass
    bitch ass 9 days ago

    6:46 "Flesh light", lmao

  • bitch ass
    bitch ass 9 days ago

    But, Why?

  • bitch ass
    bitch ass 9 days ago

    Why didn't we just build it in space?

  • bitch ass
    bitch ass 9 days ago

    why would we create something to detect something we did not know already existed? That's like creating a dictionary without knowing that words exist?

  • Jack Hanson
    Jack Hanson 9 days ago

    We were just in time to hear our universes heartbeat, what a time to be alive!

  • Samrat Dutta
    Samrat Dutta 10 days ago

    Rana Adhikari!!! yepeee he is in this video

  • Eben Visher
    Eben Visher 10 days ago

    I wish I could vote "Thumbs Up" over and over and over! You are so unbelievably good at presenting powerful concepts succinctly. Thanks *so* much for all the time you spend. And we get to benefit for *free*!! (Well, not counting our Patreon pledges. :-))

  • Jaqen H'ghar
    Jaqen H'ghar 11 days ago

    This guy seems bored by the ignorance of all other human beings. I bet if you met him you would never know how smart he is because he wouldn't bother to say things he knew you wouldn't understand

  • outerrealm
    outerrealm 11 days ago

    Does physics explain your hair? Is it the physics of that's the way it looks when you get up and so what?

  • John Lewis
    John Lewis 12 days ago

    Awesome presentation!

  • JR S.
    JR S. 12 days ago

    I think his explanation missed the point of the 2 perpendicular arms. It seems gravitational waves don't stretch both arms in the same way, causing the arms to differ at length during the passage of the gravitational waves. After all, if it weren't so, the arms would have the exactly same lengths and regardless of how many new laser beams you shot into both arms at the same time, they wouldn't go out of phase and interfere, right? Can anybody correct me if I'm wrong?

  • Yaboylemon
    Yaboylemon 12 days ago

    *is lecturing me on gravitational waves* * claims that something WEIGHS in KILOGRAMS*

  • Kae Pugna
    Kae Pugna 14 days ago

    Black holes don't exist..simple answer. It's all a lie

  • Damian Mandic
    Damian Mandic 14 days ago

    I don't think this facility is for measuring gravitational waves. But hey, that's just me.

  • kirdiekirdie
    kirdiekirdie 14 days ago

    Prof Rana Adhikari is so funny, his lectures must be awesome.

  • bloodspilla55
    bloodspilla55 15 days ago

    Why do we need two arms? Why must they be perpendicular?

  • Rajwardhan Sagare
    Rajwardhan Sagare 15 days ago

    doesn't earths curvature add an error in measurement
    how can it be eliminated

  • Richards Graham
    Richards Graham 16 days ago

    total dis information

  • WinningCrys
    WinningCrys 17 days ago

    At 7:23 , look in the mans sunglasses.

  • trabur metaheap
    trabur metaheap 17 days ago

    as if making a tool like that wouldn't send ripples past the observable universe; now run and detect that.

  • Don Jobin
    Don Jobin 17 days ago

    If time & space actually warped the photons in LIGO would stay in sink, not be detectable. But as a proper force with a carrier particle (graviton) it would move objects in space (Newtonian force) but not the space itself.

  • Avinash Tiwari
    Avinash Tiwari 17 days ago

    When ever I Hear Quatam Mechanics , It Always Bring me near concept of MAYA in Hindu Philosophy.
    and It always Give answer HUMAN Imgiation is Fastr then Light.

  • funkyplasmaman
    funkyplasmaman 18 days ago

    the signal is an anomaly and gravitational waves have not been detected. for arguments sake and ease of explanation lets say the laser takes 1 second to travel the detector and they measure 1.1 sec this would be an alleged gravitational wave, but if the wave bends space it also bends time if space time exists, this slowing down of time would cancel out the increase and the observer would not measure any change.

  • Benji Bilheimer
    Benji Bilheimer 19 days ago

    What a perfect way of describing that moment when physics hit the quantum level and everything became exponentially harder to explain: Hmm… nature must be trying to hide something here…

  • Rolotomasi Hunter
    Rolotomasi Hunter 19 days ago

    😏 🤖💩😆

  • animashock wave アニマチョーク

    A legenda em portugues precisa ser completada.

  • Luke Day Music
    Luke Day Music 20 days ago

    Great video. Really enjoyed it, especially the general sense that things that are definitely possible.

  • Julius Bernotas
    Julius Bernotas 20 days ago

    They are wearing those glasses to protect their eyes from 1 MW laser

  • The Questioner
    The Questioner 21 day ago

    That's gotta be the chillest physics professor in as large a distance as possible.

  • hottrendz
    hottrendz 21 day ago

    Why is it so important to find this out? How will this be beneficial to us?

  • A. N.
    A. N. 21 day ago



  • Bel-Shamharoth
    Bel-Shamharoth 21 day ago

    What if we used 1.21 Gigawatts for the laser?

  • ThrowingItAway
    ThrowingItAway 21 day ago

    Why doesn't the detector have three arms?

  • Jeremiah Mullikin
    Jeremiah Mullikin 21 day ago

    Now that we know gravitational waves exist, what kind of technology can we come up with using them?

  • Steven Mcelwee
    Steven Mcelwee 23 days ago

    Space is not real. Gravity isn't real

  • Sjoer van der Ploeg
    Sjoer van der Ploeg 23 days ago

    Please stop mixing up constantly with repeatedly or continuously!
    You can shoot something repeatedly or continuously, not constantly!

  • Jeremy
    Jeremy 23 days ago

    I hope my tax dollars aren't being spent on this.

  • AB J
    AB J 23 days ago

    dammit, this sounds exactly like good bye anonymous farting.

  • zodiacfml
    zodiacfml 24 days ago

    It is even more absurd who came out with the theory! Who would have guessed/study that there is such as thing! I've read somewhere that the clue/hint for Einstein was information can't travel faster than light thus a change in gravity must be limited by the speed of light but how did he know that it is a wave that compress and stretches?

  • james west
    james west 24 days ago

    Rana's claim here that "the light actually does get stretched" [about 6:30] is completely at odds with what Kip Thorne says in one of his presentations. Thorne claims that we know the mirror moved because "the speed of light remains constant". So Thorne, in order to justify this monumental claim of a stretching universe uses a dogma about the constancy of the speed of light as the yardstick to determine the movement of the mirror. Rana has a different explanation. They can't both be right.
    Perhaps they should have "got their story straight" before the Big Announcement.

  • yuh yuh
    yuh yuh 25 days ago

    When scientific predictions are proven. 🎵Don't call it a comeback! I've been here for years!🎵

  • Halorym
    Halorym 25 days ago

    Should have named this "The absurd REQUIREMENTS of detecting gravitational waves" I came here expecting someone to try to refute the finding.

  • Roger Diogo
    Roger Diogo 25 days ago

    Is even more absurd to "listen" to sounds from Dinousaurs from millions of years ago, that got resgistered in space...

  • Mehrad Mahmoudian
    Mehrad Mahmoudian 25 days ago

    loved the part that Rana says "I wish more people would ask this question". this (you who are asking and him that is answering) are the true scientists. Asking question and paying attention to them is half way towards solution. Thank you both.

    • james west
      james west 24 days ago

      Filmed interviews are rarely spontaneous. Do you think Rana would have assented to the interview had he suspected his interlocutor would ask questions he couldn't answer?

  • A Zafar
    A Zafar 26 days ago

    Prof needs a new shirt and better iron for sure

  • Sukhī Bhakta Dāsa
    Sukhī Bhakta Dāsa 26 days ago

    This stuff is cool and all, and the ingenuity displayed here is remarkable, but at the end of the day what is it that is actually trying to being achieved? Is it just knowledge for its own sake?

  • Eugene Shchigolev
    Eugene Shchigolev 27 days ago

    if laser distance travel path gets stretched so does the measurement devise , sooo... this whole thing is is bullcrap , gravity is relative to everything

  • Алексей Волшебников

    it can't be detect by time duration of laser trip, because time speed is changing with those gravitational waves.

  • Brandon
    Brandon 28 days ago

    Lego my LIGO.

  • JanPBtest
    JanPBtest 29 days ago

    0:35 It's the standard mistake to represent gravitational waves by fluttering objects in space (Earth in this case). If objects moved in sync with the gravitational waves, the waves would be undetectable and FAPP nonexistent. Gravitational waves are waves in gravity but the objects respond to it differently (or hardly at all, it depends on their physical properties, rigidity, and so on). And again at 1:38, etc.

  • Albert 2017
    Albert 2017 Month ago

    They wanted to make the 100th "anniversary" of General Relativity "amazingly coincident" with the alleged "discovery of gravitational waves" in 2016, and so they invented all this circus to raise money. But under 10^-9 meters (nanometers) and 10^-10 meters (angstrom) orders of magnitude, molecules and atoms are randomly oscillating and vibrating , thereby making impossible to locate an object whatever, whose alleged size would be 10^-19 meters (= 1 billion times smaller than 1 angstrom!) and "interposing" between interferometers. It would be much easier to locate a molecule of water 1 hour after you dropped it in the middle of Pacific Ocean, and "interposing" between waves 7-8 meters high!

  • treiiezi
    treiiezi Month ago

    How do you keep the laser wavelength fixed? Doesn't the laser itself get stretched with the spacetime?

  • Aaron Bogart
    Aaron Bogart Month ago

    Dont worry guys im just a Christian and gravity and evolution is "just a theory" science lies dinosaurs co existed with humans. The earth is flat. We fit over billions of species on a big ole wooden boat that couldnt have been built with the technology, but thats fine a 500 year old "human" did it. Proof? Lol are you dumb the bible says it.

    Reasonable person: what proves the bible?
    Duh the bible proves the bible easy logic. The moon is made out of cheese. I also had a personal experience where my mom was in the hospital and the doctors told me she was going to die but she didn't so ya god exist.

  • Tyler Simpson
    Tyler Simpson Month ago

    To be fair, you need a very high IQ to understand Rick & Mor-Veritaisium

  • B Real
    B Real Month ago +1

    Gravity is fake! Its a THEORY!

    • Joel Harris
      Joel Harris 2 days ago

      B real, the theory works.

    • Shirokröte
      Shirokröte 7 days ago

      Proof it, show me a video of footage of a flat earth

    • Artemis Logic
      Artemis Logic 7 days ago

      earth is flat

    • B Real
      B Real 26 days ago

      Shirokröte I don't care what you do! People like you believe what ever they are told! Dont think for yourself let NASA do your thinking for you! Sheep

  • bigbangnone
    bigbangnone Month ago

    Two power company technicians having some fun on 3rd shift modulating the power.....fooling those who create a colossal waste tax payer money.

  • K9
    K9 Month ago

    It's so nice listening to two intelligent people have an intelligent conversation. Mostly what I hear at work is things like: "Man, I got so wasted last night and puked up some Doritos and, man, did that hurt."

  • Stiggy Vandsrinskeen

    Hahah this whole thing is bogus. Absolutely right

  • Johnny Chunders
    Johnny Chunders Month ago

    If the loudest thing in the universe, 50 times more powerful than the entire energetic output of the universe recorded on the most sensitive apparatus ever constructed sounds like a sparrow fart on Pluto, how are they going to detect anything else?

  • Francisco Sánchez Buenosvinos

    la clave está en el principio de equivalencia de Einstein. las ondas gravitatorias existen en la misma manera de que existe el campo gravitatorio pero el campo gravitatorio no puede ser detectado como no puede serlo dentro de la estación espacial o por un astronauta en el espacio consúltese el libro fundamentos físicos de la historia natural del universo o el blog

  • Sankeerth
    Sankeerth Month ago

    But isn't a collapsing black hole pair create only a shorly lasting wave? How long will it be before the wave becomes weak? This might be a stupid question but I have no idea about the time scale we're talking about here.

  • big ass dude
    big ass dude Month ago

    It is almost unbelievable that we are in fact part of the space time fabric at the most subatomic level. We and all we see around us is part of the universe working in harmony in sync. Just as everything happens at diff times.

  • James Bond
    James Bond Month ago

    Is reanimation time travel?

  • Hammer ToeNail
    Hammer ToeNail Month ago

    You know how many Doritos I could buy with the money they spent on the lazer thing

  • Tau
    Tau Month ago +3

    Hey, *You*, yes *you*, average person with a functional prefrontal-cortex.
    Don't damage your IQ by scrolling through these comments.
    (I've already done it for you, its an ugly job, someone has to do it) Sometimes people just don't want to learn, They just like to keep burning witch- I mean being confused and scared of new things, it's not their fault, Oh wait...

    • burgzaza
      burgzaza 27 days ago

      Thanks, I'll stop scrolling. I've read some profundly stupid comments already...

  • Sammy Spaniel
    Sammy Spaniel Month ago

    Aaaaaaaaand that's why I don't make the big bucks.

  • B Dean
    B Dean Month ago

    well i understood approximately 1 trillionth of all that

  • Infiltrator2003
    Infiltrator2003 Month ago

    Wonder how they know that the machine itself is not slightly expanding and contracting between the two points due to some unknown vibration of the Earth.

  • Max Mustermann
    Max Mustermann Month ago

    But does this only work on single black holes since actual gravitational waves are only being made of TWO black holes merging together?


    dope video!
    Have a good evening :o)

  • awfulguitarplucker
    awfulguitarplucker Month ago

    so,view under a "musical theory" point of view,its a bit as if the gravitational wave "quantized" teh timespace once passied thru teh earth (in reference to what the engeneer said that "nothing happened" when measuring the gravitational waves in the detectors)?

  • GLOCK ThirtyFive
    GLOCK ThirtyFive Month ago

    Who pays for this stuff?

    JOSE FERREIRA Month ago


  • Philip
    Philip Month ago

    Forget all these lies! Profess Gospel Truth (Salvation, etc.) ...
    ALL have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; (Romans 3:23) KJV
    The wages of sin is death; The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
    BUT: God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
    That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. (Romans 10:9)

  • Philip
    Philip Month ago

    But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. (Revelation 21:8)

  • Red Ace
    Red Ace Month ago

    Even with two LIGOs separated by distance, this would only cancel out noise that is extremely local. This wouldn't cancel out some other noise that may be larger, coming from outer space for example, and hitting both LIGOs at the same time. Basically they are assuming that just because both LIGOs were affected by something, that the thing they were both affected by were necessarily gravitational waves, without actually cancelling out other possible things from outer space coming in that may be affecting them.

  • Kevin Gushlaw
    Kevin Gushlaw Month ago

    because we can't recreate the collision of 2 black holes isn't it just a hypothetical theory that created this gravitational wave? when it could be something like just magnetic waves

  • alder128
    alder128 Month ago

    billions of $ go into studying things like this

  • Jake Alex
    Jake Alex Month ago

    Did they prove they have that degree of accuracy?!

  • David
    David Month ago

    Hello. I come from the year 3257 just to tell you that in a few days one of you is about to fart an entire species 31 Light Years away into extinction. :(
    May the great Space Slug Emperor forgive you.

  • madhu babu
    madhu babu Month ago

    Utterly mind blowing

  • Gladiator 300
    Gladiator 300 Month ago

    There are no black holes in any of the 4 big bang universes THEORIZED, and no big bang in any of the 3 black hole universes similarly THEORIZED. Neither theory involves the other and in fact do not allow the other. All this 'scientistic' material is fit only for grocery store tabloids.

  • Spiethstar
    Spiethstar Month ago

    Such small and such large numbers, yet so unimpressive. Very nice indeed and truely absurd as well. This is no science, this is fantasy. Spacetime to walk my unicorn with mrcon mega whitehole on my mars garden wich is the size of the of my doormat that say's, nothing because it's a doormat ofcourse.