About 130 million years ago, two stars measuring 12 miles across but containing more mass than held in our Sun were locked together. They were spiralling together, in a relatively rare event that lasted only a few seconds and likely ended up with the creation of a black hole. But the event sent out a signal, in the form of gravitational waves and light. It also made a sound. Not a bang, but a kind of whizz-bang chirpy pop.
At the exact time this happened, dinosaurs roamed on planet Earth. When the signals from the merging neutron stars were about half way on their journey towards Earth, an asteroid struck our planet, killing off 75 per cent of all species.
Over the last five per cent of the gravitational waves’ journey, humans evolved, learnt how to use tools, developed civilisations and started looking to the skies with wonder.
Just 100 years ago, one human predicted the impact such colossal events would have on spacetime. Now we can detect them.
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