Detecting Gravitational Waves

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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The MIT School of Science is the world’s leading institution for science. They believe pure and applied science are both essential for making a better world, and tackle the most challenging scientific problems facing our society. The School of Science’s unparalleled research in the core science areas of biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics has been covered by leading American publications including the New York Times, NPR, and the Washington Post. And members of their faculty have received global recognition for Nobel Prize winning contributions to scientific research.

A century after first predicted, scientists validated Einstein by listening to invisible ripples in the universe.

Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity predicted the existence of gravitational waves — distortions in spacetime — but assumed that they would be virtually impossible to detect from Earth.

On Sept. 14, 2015, at approximately 5:51 a.m. EDT, a gravitational wave — a ripple from a distant part of the universe — passed through the Earth, generating an almost imperceptible, fleeting wobble that would have gone completely unnoticed save for two massive, identical instruments, designed to listen for such cosmic distortions.

Since this first discovery, LIGO has detected other gravitational wave signals, also generated by pairs of spiraling, colliding black holes. The latest discovery of a neutron-neutron star merger producing gravitational waves opens the field of a long-awaited “multi-messenger astronomy” to understand astrophysical events in both gravitational waves and electromagnetic waves — our cosmic messengers.

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In collaboration with Upstatement, we crafted procedural Artworks for a series of visually-driven stories that encapsulate the rigor, excitement, and nuance of these scientific findings — namely:

Full project page: MIT School of Science

Creative Direction, Design, Systems: Process
Development: Stefan Kernjak
Agency, MIT School of Science Website: Upstatement
Client: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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