The Absurdity of Detecting Gravitational Waves

A head-vaporizing laser with a perfect wavelength detecting sub-proton space-time ripples.
Huge thanks to Prof Rana Adhikari and LIGO:
Here's how he felt when he learned about the first ever detection:

Thanks to Patreon supporters:
Nathan Hansen, Donal Botkin, Tony Fadell, Saeed Alghamdi, Zach Mueller, Ron Neal
Support Veritasium on Patreon:

A lot of videos have covered the general overview of the discovery of gravitational waves, what they are, the history of the search, when they were found but I wanted to delve into the absurd science that made the detection possible.

When scientists want one megawatt of laser power, it's not just for fun (though I'm sure it's that too), it's because the fluctuations in the number of photons is proportional to their square root, making more powerful beams less noisy (as a fraction of their total). The smoothest mirrors were created not for aesthetic joy but because when you're trying to measure wiggles that are a fraction the width of a proton, a rough mirror surface simply won't do.

Filmed by Daniel Joseph Files

Music by Kevin MacLeod, "Black Vortex" (appropriately named)

Music licensed from Epidemic Sound "Observations 2" (also appropriately named)

Views: 1374213
Runtime: 9:7
Comments: 4043

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Author Bei Bei Miao ( ago)
wonderful thank you

Author 699backstab ( ago)
Take that religionists.

Author seasong ( ago)
So this is like the michelson experiment, but bigger?

Author Winston Chang ( ago)
You have a pre-supposition to begin with, and you detect what you suspected, and you call it that which
you named it to begin with ......

Author Alan Simons ( ago)
The laser will vaporize your head, but you better wear these safety glasses to protect your eyes...

Author Alan Foxman ( ago)
I wonder if it would be theoretically possible to use gravitational waves as a means of propulsion. Like surfing an ocean wave. The force might be small...but like a solar sail, over a long period of time could you build up speed?

Author Flea Market Socialist ( ago)
Close your eyes and imagine gravity as a jello-y 3D lattice with deeper pockets of gravity (planetary bodies) being harder jello all in a huge huge jello existence.

idk what time is. Maybe flavor?

Author isaacdesantigo isaac ( ago)
I understand so little about this video but i love seeing it once and once again

Author MrDrvmmer ( ago)
It is a matter of mental masturbation, nothing else.

You need 1.21giggawatts

They heard a mosquito fart from another country.....shhh , did you hear that. I Know I did 😬

Author The Doctor ( ago)
What if the gravitational wave hit the thing at a 45 degree angle so Both arms stretched the same amount?

Author QuarterM7 ( ago)
1:21 you blew my mind/fucked my brain there and I've been into astronomy for years and years.

Author Sam Hopkins ( ago)
Where is the scientific method here exactly? What a sad joke/deception.There is still zero proof of gravity, or the so called "Big Bang" for that matter! The world's most prolific inventor and true genius, Nikola Tesla, and Einstein both knew that electromagnetism and resonance are the dominant forces used to create and balance the realm we live in. Theoretical "scientists" of today do not follow through with the scientific method whatsoever and are granted to keep us ignorant of the amazing technologies of the past and vast possibilities for advancement, energy, creativity and healing these forces can infinitely provide. Please don't buy this and look into Nikola Tesla and the many true scientists that continue in his path today.

Author Jack A. Lope ( ago)
Gravy waves. Now give us more money. We are running a billion dollar machine that can only do one thing. Waste lots of money detecting relativistic fantasies. But look at the bright side. In a few years when congress pulls it's funding and everything is sold to a salvage contractor for few thousand dollars maybe someone here on youtube can do a life hack on it and all of that ultra high technology will finally be used for something useful like popping balloons....on the moon.

Here at the church of Einstein our lord and Savior, GRAVITY, is the omnipotent master of the big bang universe and creator of all black holes. We have no idea how gravity works but our computer models are faith based so we don't need to. We take something we barely understand and use it to explain everything we know nothing about.

Author Kenneth B ( ago)
Does the direction on the Gravitational wave origin matter. What happens when the direction is at a horizontal direction with the instruments. And can three of them triangulate the source. Is there any benefit to the economy from this research, like skill training for high technology jobs. Do they allow schools to bring in their students.

Author GunTotnHippie ( ago)
Funny how Science is finally getting to the point of what wise men/women already knew - there is no spoon. ;)

Author Fire Of Beauty ( ago)
Such preparation...

Author Kurt Piket ( ago)
I am amazed that they speak over gravitational waves. According to me, any gravitational impact base on NO-Waves.
These gravitational waves should be named in fact as the "last" electromagentic waves, before gravity let them disappear into their black holes inside.
Because gravitiy does not exist by waves, there is no electromagnetic instrument that can meausre it.

Even sound, as this one, disappears into silence again.

Author James Moscovar ( ago)
You guys are fighting for no reasons... I don't care who's bright or not but I only care about enjoy those things because most of the times their creators cannot enjoy them... thanks to their intelligence we, the dumbest guys can live comfortably... However , I watch those videos just to understand English... I can barely understand the topics.

Author Vicky Medrano ( ago)
He's so handsome is actually distracting XD

Author A Name ( ago)
The mind is the only thing that stretches ;)

Author John Marshall ( ago)
A question was posed in the video, but not answered: why not use a smaller wave length laser so there's more interference?

Author Brent Rou ( ago)
I was told at LIGO (Louisiana) that there are actually more than two places that measure these waves. 3 to be exact, one is in europe somewhere I believe! Great video!

Author Rufus Sandy Tanjung Pernata ( ago)
let me ask one question.

what is this function for everyday life?
sorry for bad english.

Author Alpha Omega ( ago)
you change it by observing it.cats dead

Author Helga Hufflepuff ( ago)
Does anyone know this dude's name? I wanna follow him on twitter.

Author Adolf0is0winner ( ago)
waves need the medium to create disturbance which we call waving of some thing ultimately. how can the wave travel in space then

Author Sodiq Ali ( ago)
please tell me how can we use this in the real world

Author Cordyceps1111 ( ago)
this is actually amazing, we picked it up just a few years after construction... almost unbelievable, it's incredible :D

Author Frank N. Stein ( ago)
The only thing that this proves to me is: THE EARTH IS MOTIONLESS (and flat)!

Author G MinK ( ago)
I thought the largest vacuum chamber was NASA's facility in Cleveland.

Author S000 L111 ( ago)
When he mmmmmmmmm..... and without his glasses and not speaking, he looks retarded!! But when he speaks, you know he is a Learned man.


Author mattyjmar10 ( ago)
I think the cameraman got hit with a gravitational wave at 6:43

Author Lance Roark ( ago)
You should do, "The Obserdity of living on a ball."

Author drout0 ( ago)
1:11 - CONCHITA WURST!!!!!! YOU AGAIN!!! DIVA QUEEN!!!! (all caps to match the diva's efusiveness)

Author Southern Patriot ( ago)
First and foremost, you are attempting to remove the atmosphere of earth, to understand the building blocks of the known universe. You fucktards are trying to understand ice from the lenses of a freezer. We live in an ELECTRICALY CHARGED universe. You did not remove ANY ionization, nor did you considerer the hydrogen from our big red ball. Gravity will NEVER be detected with your trained thinking.
You presume, prior to test, that earthly atmospheric obstacles must be removed. Electric, vibration and gasses must be accounted for. Otherwise, all you are doing is removing the water from a fish bowl, trying to understand why the fish aren't floating any more. How did we end up with fucktards in science?

Author hassan alkazimi ( ago)
رائع جدا

Author Gord's Place ( ago)
Yeah mapping out the cosmos as gravitational distortions would be very interesting. They might find something they didn't expect.

Author Scott B ( ago)
I hope this isn't a government funded project.

Author Scott B ( ago)
All that money and I detect them every time I fall down.

Author Dharma Sutra ( ago)
Warum hat Geo 600 nichts gemessen?

Author RandwolfeKohl ( ago)
I am not a scientist, but I follow physics, cosmology and climatology as much as possible. I am truly pleased when new discoveries are made. My only question is, what will all of this absolutely mind bending, consciousness changing information matter, if we make Earth uninhabitable in the near future? Far more scientists than I ever imaged are in agreement about the exponential nature of climate change. If we can engineer our way out, it better happen this decade. It will be so sad to come so far in understanding our place in the Universe, only to become extinct.

Author 27kdon ( ago)
love the epic music

Author Pigeon Griffin ( ago)
I got a physics girl ad

Author Dave Jacob ( ago)
i thought gravitational waves travel at the speed of light???

Author Bobby Harper ( ago)
Does a 7-Eleven clerk run the place?

Author greenleafkratom ( ago)
quantum mechanics = thinking inside the box. Photons don't exist nor does the speed of light.

Author Vrijman ( ago)
My friend's momma so fat, she made a baseball swerve

Author Awesome Anime ( ago)
i don't know about others, but for me, this was a serious mindf**k!

Author William McCormick ( ago)
Although they may have created a very good vacuum they did not create a total vacuum. All the air is not removed from that chamber. So the experiment they are doing is on a very light gas. If they had come close to a perfect vacuum the walls of the chamber would disintegrate into the vacuum.

They are compressing, stretching and bending the light atmosphere in the tube, not space.

Matter is 90 percent space even tungsten, matter is just an electrical effect. The way that this empty foam creates the illusion of weight, and solidity, is through Start, Change, Stop. It is a law of the universe. Understanding Start, Change, Stop, a human being can be positively or negatively accelerated to great velocity over a short distance safely. However these things are rarely studied anymore today.


William McCormick

Author William McCormick ( ago)
Space as I was taught is the area that matter exists within. Since space is always filled with atoms within the universe. The substance that bends, stretches, or compresses is just matter. Whether it is the light hydrogen atmosphere of deep space, or a planet, only the matter is being effected.

Space within the boundaries of the universe, was by definition nothing, absolutely nothing. It does not play with time, it does not play with matter, it is only an empty place for matter and ambient radiation to exist. It has no effect on matter or ambient radiation.


William McCormick

Author boiled egg bro ( ago)
my butt hurts

Author Richard- music matters the most ( ago)
If gravitational waves are weak then how does earth attract moon..???plzz tell I am confused..

Author king sardonyx ( ago)
Great, Great

Why do we need to know this again

Author unitednihilists ( ago)
Humanity is such a conundrum. This level of problem solving vs the all the incredibly asinine things we do to each other...

Author Am_I_Human aka FindStoicism ( ago)
He said the gravitational waves have a frequency of 100Hz. How does he know that? I thought the whole point of this device was to prove their existence?

Author Anankin12 ( ago)
We now have cars that are road legal and produce more than 1 MW of power, a.k.a. Koenigsegg Regera, One:1 and some RSs and Bugatti Chiron.
And they go >>400kph.

Author Moses Bullrush ( ago)
Two black holes in orbit around each other would not emit anything. 4:18 there is no such thing as 'photons'.

Author Urban Chaos 2.0 ( ago)
This, is a scam. You'd have to be highly ignorant to believe this made-up garbage.

Author Matthew Styles ( ago)
Is this comedy or science?

Author i boom ( ago)
An awesome video!

Author mike o'neill ( ago)
Wow, a measurement of all the black holes at the same time is going freak with our head, when we discover how much more we will know

Author Richard Driskill ( ago)
Three things -
#1: The ridiculousness of the minuteness of the measurements required is stupefying. BTW, who's paying for the 1 MW of juice?; certainly not the sound-FX dude in the clogs. It's like I'm watching Back To The Future / Part 4, and Doc has a bastard kid via the Kali statue at CERN.
#2: Surely this was a stupid endeavour as in the future our understanding of all physics realms through mathematics would be much better and we would have been able to solve this in another fashion; kind of like the difference in ability between an abacus and a super computer.
#3: So now you've detected the wave. Great. Wonderful. Now repeat it so we know it's real. Just joking! Shut down the razzle-dazzle vacuum money pit and go get a real job. You're not supposed to be pulling back the curtain anyway; it's rude.

Author David ( ago)
Is Veritasium going for his doctorate?

Author Minute Controversy ( ago)
All these science nerds can correct me if I'm wrong but wouldn't it have been easier to send two light waves constantly at half a wave length difference so there is a constant destructive interference and from there just measure what light shows during the gravitational wave as opposed to having a constant constructive interference and trying to measure that minute change. My point being that it's easier to see, even to the human eye a tiny source of light in a completely dark environment than a tiny dimming of the light in a completely lit environment. I understand you won't be able to see the change with your naked eye anyways but possibly an infrared detection sensor not unlike a sCMOS or any staring array could detect it. Thinking back on the preciseness of these instruments there actually might not be a point to what I am saying but I'm just curious whether it could be a second option or if there are any hindrances.

Author Pankaj Singh ( ago)
Why don't we explode nuclear bomb in outer space and then detect whether gravity is a wave or not?

Author Gus Scott ( ago)
Rana looks more Bollywood than nerdy scientist.

Author Alessio Proietti ( ago)
All the material is absolutely enjoyable and mind-blowing!
By the way I agree with your amazement at 8:18...

Author Anthony Mandolin ( ago)
Why are the "new" light photons not being stretched as well ? Why would they be created normal, when there is a gravity wave around the process that creates them ?
I'm very skeptical of this whole thing.
Also, 50x the energy emitted in the whole of the universe ? And we managed to capture this cosmic unique event exactly at the precise time when the waves happened to pass through earth ? Give me a break.

Author Daniel Ruiz ( ago)
42.0 420?

Author Manish Adhikari ( ago)
Is Prof. Rana Adhikari Nepali ?

Author Ethernet3 ( ago)
In principle you could do better, but it is not yet possible for high photon numbers.
But in principle, if you could get the photons in a so called "NOON" state, the uncertainty in the phase goes down by 1/N, instead of 1/sqrt(N)

Author Vi Con ( ago)
You should first explain stuff from basic point of view before throwing out all that technical terms.

Author IxI Z0DiAK IxI ( ago)
what kind of engineer are you and which province do you come from?

Author fcycles ( ago)
"this whole things is bogus.... shut it down" :) so funny!!

Author VonBrox ( ago)
it's like an awe inspiring kind of energy

Author Michael Hudson ( ago)
Thanks, I'm going to show this to my science class. And I'll post this on Paul Sanhu's channel. He posted that gravity is a hoax and there is no such thing as gravity waves. Thanks for the work your doing in science education.

Author keefy ( ago)
I believe that if anything this is pseudo science and of course just like the biggest liars in the world NASA, they will want funding into 8-9 $ figures. It will be of no use at all for mankind, especially at this time when the phoney wars and phoney space stations are sucking the money and the heart out of the US population. Research Einstein and see he was a plagiarist of the mega type and was pushed as a Genius celebrity by the Jesuits. It was all phoney and all theory no facts. That's why Einstein referred to Tesla as the more intelligent physicist because Tesla had theory and proof to uphold his science. When Tesla died, even before he was cold, the secret service removed everything that Tesla had, for national security reasons. Ligo was quoting 10 -37 part of a single proton, an ant fart perhaps.

Author Laughter On Water ( ago)
The frequency and amplitude we're measuring today are tiny because we're 1.3 billion lightyears away. But 1.3 billion years ago, at the origin of this phenomenon, there were likely frequencies and amplitudes of space-time warpage that were detrimental to the _contents_ of space and time within some radius of the origin, but far outside the event horizon of the coalescence. To suggest that 50 times the energy of the entire known observable universe was spent in this event implies that there are some knowable radii for the following:

1. A radius at which the formation of new stars would have been disrupted, hindered or helped
2. A radius at which existing stars would have been some how effected
3. A radius at which smaller rocky planets of nearby stars would have been affected.
3. A radius at which all carbon-based life would have been obliterated
4. A radius at which carbon-based life would have been drastically affected but still survived

Do we have any ideas about what these radii might be?
What might the affects have been?

Having measured amplitude of the phenomenon from our vantage point, what would the amplitudes have been at 10, 100, 1000, 10000 lightyears at their obvious times from the origin have been?

Author Franz Nopper ( ago)
the german title of the video means sth. like "the absurditiy of the discovery of gravitational waves" (die Absurdität der Entdeckung von Gravitationswellen) - i find that quite misleading, as if it were some kind of fake news. please consider renaming it.

Author CookieLPGames ( ago)
it may seem like a pretty basic and lame question but how can we use this information, what do we get out of it?

Author Stelian IONESCU ( ago)
I don't understand why the stretching are considered only a stretch of the space, but not a stretch of the time. If what is stretched is the space-time, the stretch of the time will compensate the stretch of the space, and then, that makes any measure non-sense. Because if the space is longer, the time is quicker, or isn't ?
Please, teach me.

Author Billy Te ( ago)
I wear my suuuuunglasses inside, so I can so I caaaan. Watch you weave then breathe your gravity waves

Author Jacinda Lacroix ( ago)
This is phenomenal! Even though I don't understand whenever you bring up the formulas but your videos fascinate me... 😊😊

Author oldi184 ( ago)
You cant divide by zero. Just keep that in mind.

Author quecisneros ( ago)
Is this a distance smaller than the uncertainty in measurement with the usted instruments AND the marginal error by the same instruments???

Author Kawaii Kid ( ago)
This was my favorite episode you've done yet. Great job, and keep up the good work!

Author w0mbles ( ago)
That crane shot at the beginning is pretty cool. How did you do it? Drone?

Author mohammed yousif ( ago)
Why is his shirt not ironed? What are they going to do with these eqipment when the experiment is done?

Author Keylocker ( ago)
physics professor... measures stuff in inches :\

Author Drastic Logic ( ago)
you cant bend space because it is made of nothing. Einstein was an idiot

Author febedah re ( ago)
I dont understand english very well therefore can somebody explain me what this guy want to say?,does he claim that the gravitational waves haven't been detected?

Author drakg002 ( ago)
Such a waste of time and money.

Author Michael Barber ( ago)
Sweet glasses bro

Author Brad ( ago)
It's good to see that science is doing its best to decrease its carbon footprint by using 1 megawatt for multiple-month long periods of operation just so we can detect something 1.4 billion light years away. Don't get me wrong, it's pretty cool, but is that knowledge worth the contribution of greenhouse gasses that compound the problem of alleged climate change?

Author Dylandy Chang ( ago)
so if we can control the gravitational wave, we can shrink the space to reach a super light speed travelling?

Author Jacob Alvarado ( ago)
How did they measure the gravity of the black holes combining without the gravity of the Earth, moon, sun, and all the planets not interfering? Also when they find the gravity, couldn't it just be an energy pulse from massive energy being released when the black holes combined?

Author Jonathan Jacobs ( ago)
That scientist is not human.

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