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With its Nobel-winning research on gravitational waves, astronomy has turned a corner

We may soon be using GWs as routinely as radio waves and X-rays are used today

By Philip Ball  

Benjamin Knispel from the Albert Einstein Institute in Hanover explains the workings of a research satellite used in gravitational wave research. Photo: PA

This year everyone with their eye on the ball predicted the Nobel prize in physics correctly. It was obvious that it must be awarded to the researchers responsible for the epoch-making detection of gravitational waves (GWs), announced in February 2016—just weeks too late to qualify for last year’s prize.

The discovery was both an experimental confirmation of a prediction of Albert Einstein’s century-old theory of general…

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