Expert Voices

Ask Them Anything: The Hunt for Gravitational Waves

Binary Stars Coalescing
A still frame from a computer animation shows two binary neutron stars coalescing into a black hole. Taken from the video, "LIGO, A Passion for Understanding," by Kai Staats. (Image credit: Kai Staats)

Maggie Tse, graduate student at MIT and part of the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF)'s multi-institutional Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO), contributed this announcement to's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

One of the most sensitive detectors in human history is NSF's Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO). Located in two separate facilities nearly a continent apart, the LIGO interferometers can detect vibrations far smaller than an attometer (1,000,000,000,000,000,000th of a meter). More than 900 scientists, engineers and others support the effort — some having been involved for more than twenty years — all contributing to a single goal: detection of gravitational waves, ripples in space-time predicted by Albert Einstein that have yet to be directly detected. [WATCH NOW: 'LIGO, A Passion for Understanding' Documentary Premiere ]

By the end of 2015, LIGO will start collecting data with newly installed, upgraded instruments, opening a new window on the violent astrophysical events happening throughout the universe. In conjunction with the launch of the documentary film "LIGO Generations" on, LIGO is hosting an interactive Ask Me Anything (AMA) session at

If you're a topical expert — researcher, business leader, author or innovator — and would like to contribute an op-ed piece, email us here. (Image credit:

When: Friday, February 13, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. EST / -5 GMT

At the AMA, you will meet the scientists who are working on the next-generation gravitational wave observatory system, Advanced LIGO, a culmination of many years of work on mechanical design, lasers, control systems, electronics and computing systems, and Kai Staats, the filmmaker who produced "LIGO Generations" and its predecessor, "LIGO: A Passion for Understanding." To participate, create an account at (takes only a few seconds) and visit the site Friday to post your questions.

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