Poem: The Warped Facet of Our Universe

Edited by Dava Sobel

A billion years in the past
   —whereas right here on Earth
   multicelled life was arising and spreading—
in a galaxy far distant
   two spinning black holes danced ‘spherical each other,
   rippling the material of area and time.

The ripples, referred to as gravity waves
   sucked power from the holes’ orbit, so
The holes spiraled inward,
   eclipsing one another,
   towards a climactic collision:

The holes,
   at half of sunshine velocity,
   collided catastrophically
     and merged
        in a quick, cataclysmic storm
        of writhing and twisting spacetime
   that introduced the waves to crescendo.

The climaxing gravity waves
   surged into interstellar area.
Spreading throughout our universe,
     they stretched and so they squeezed
        all that they met
        (stars and planets and nebulae…)
     in patterns that encoded
        a portrait of their beginning:
colliding holes and spacetime storm.

The gravity waves have been vastly sturdy,
   with fifty instances extra whole energy
   —extra luminosity—
   than the entire gentle from the entire stars in all of our universe, mixed.

Fifty universe luminosities
   from two black holes colliding.
However not any gentle. Not any x-rays. Not any gamma rays or radio.
   No electromagnetic waves in any respect,
      None of any sort.

Fifty universe luminosities
   carried wholly and solely by gravity waves,
   by tendices and vortices, entwined,
   by constructions comprised of warped spacetime.

Fifty thousand years in the past,
   when people shared Earth with Neandertals,
the waves plunged into our galaxy:
   The Milky Manner. Our house.

On September fourteen of twenty fifteen
   they dove into Earth in Antarctica.
Whispering up by means of Earth’s bowels unscathed,
   and rising close to New Orleans,
     the waves encountered LIGO
        —a fancy and large, L-shaped system
          designed and constructed to understand them.

In LIGO the gravity waves stretched and squeezed
   two lengthy beams of sunshine,
which extracted the portraits the waves encoded:
   colliding holes and spacetime storm.

A momentous Eureka Occasion, it was
people’ first second of contact
   with the Warped Facet of Our Universe.

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