Listen to a Physicist Explain Gravitational Waves (in a Way You'll Understand)

Earlier this month, physicists at LIGO (the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory) announced that, after many decades of searching, they had finally detected gravitational waves. Still not really sure what that means? Theoretical physicist Brian Greene recently stopped by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to make sense of the Earth-rippling news, The Week reports

Albert Einstein first predicted gravitational waves 100 years ago, and Greene tells Colbert that the confirmation of his ideas opens up “a whole new way of exploring the universe.” Using graphics, Greene explains that gravitational waves are the result of massive objects like the Sun causing ripples in the fabric of space, much like a bowling ball on a trampoline or a pebble in a pond. Those waves spread out, passing through other objects in the universe, stretching and compressing them as they do.

In the video above, you can see a model of the device scientists used to detect the waves, though Greene and Colbert use sound waves ("Science!") instead of gravitational waves to trigger the sensor. 

If you haven’t picked up on this yet, the discovery of gravitational waves is a huge deal, as we explained on February 11, when the official announcement was made. (Rumors were swirling for months before thanks to a provocative tweet by physicist Lawrence Krauss.) Greene tells Colbert that gravitational waves “herald a revolution in our understanding of the universe” because, for one thing, they can go somewhere light can't: black holes. Gravitational waves might be the key for us to get inside and map what we can't see within those massive question marks in space.

Check out the video above to hear more about the discovery and best of all, a simulation of the sound of two black holes colliding. As Greene says, “those sounds are the future of studying the cosmos.” You can also listen to a more Earthbound remix.

Images via YouTube

[h/t The Week]

The Most Popular Infomercial Product in Each State

You don't have to pay $19.95 plus shipping and handling to discover the most popular infomercial product in each state: AT&T retailer All Home Connections is giving that information away for free via a handy map.

The map was compiled by cross-referencing the top-grossing infomercial products of all time with Google Trends search interest from the past calendar year. So, which crazy products do people order most from their TVs?

Folks in Arizona know that it's too hot there to wear layers; that's why they invest in the Cami Secret—a clip-on, mock top that gives them the look of a camisole without all the added fabric. No-nonsense New Yorkers are protecting themselves from identity theft with the RFID-blocking Aluma wallet. Delaware's priorities are all sorted out, because tons of its residents are still riding the Snuggie wave. Meanwhile, Vermont has figured out that Pajama Jeans are the way to go—because who needs real pants?

Unsurprisingly, the most popular product in many states has to do with fitness and weight loss, because when you're watching TV late enough to start seeing infomercials, you're probably also thinking to yourself: "I need to get my life together. I should get in shape." Seven states—Colorado, Idaho, Kentucky, Montana, Nebraska, Utah, and Wisconsin—have invested in the P90X home fitness system, while West Virginia and Arkansas prefer the gentler workout provided by the Shake Weight. The ThighMaster is still a thing in Illinois and Washington, while Total Gym and Bowflex were favored by South Dakota and Wyoming, respectively. 

Kitchen items are clearly another category ripe for impulse-buying: Alabama and North Dakota are all over the George Forman Grill; Alaska and Rhode Island are mixing things up with the Magic Bullet; and Floridians must be using their Slice-o-matics to chop up limes for their poolside margaritas.

Cleaning products like OxiClean (D.C. and Hawaii), Sani Sticks (North Carolina), and the infamous ShamWow (which claims the loyalty of Mainers) are also popular, but it's Proactiv that turned out to be the big winner. The beloved skin care system claimed the top spot in eight states—California, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, and Texas—making it the most popular item on the map.

Peep the full map above, or check out the full study from All Home Connections here.

A Florida Brewery Created Edible Six-Pack Rings to Protect Marine Animals

For tiny scraps of plastic, six-pack rings can pose a huge threat to marine life. Small enough and ubiquitous enough that they’re easy to discard and forget about, the little plastic webs all too often make their way to the ocean, where animals can ingest or become trapped in them. In order to combat that problem, Florida-based Saltwater Brewery has created what they say is the world’s first fully biodegradable, compostable, edible six-pack rings.

The edible rings are made of barley and wheat and are, if not necessarily tasty, at least safe for animals and humans to ingest. Saltwater Brewery started packaging their beers with the edible six-pack rings in 2016. They charge slightly more for their brews to offset the cost of the rings' production. They hope that customers will be willing to pay a bit more for the environmentally friendly beers and are encouraging other companies to adopt the edible six-pack rings in order to lower manufacturing prices and save more animals.

As Saltwater Brewery president Chris Gove says in the video above: “We want to influence the big guys and kind of inspire them to also get on board.”


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