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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]

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26 Facts About LEGO Bricks

Since it first added plastic, interlocking bricks to its lineup, the Danish toy company LEGO (from the words Leg Godt for “play well”) has inspired builders of all ages to bring their most imaginative designs to life. Sets have ranged in size from scenes that can be assembled in a few minutes to 5000-piece behemoths depicting famous landmarks. And tinkerers aren’t limited to the sets they find in stores. One of the largest LEGO creations was a life-sized home in the UK that required 3.2 million tiny bricks to construct.

In this episode of the List Show, John Green lays out 26 playful facts about one of the world’s most beloved toy brands. To hear about the LEGO black market, the vault containing every LEGO set ever released, and more, check out the video above then subscribe to our YouTube channel to stay up-to-date with the latest flossy content.

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Of Buckeyes and Butternuts: 29 States With Weird Nicknames for Their Residents
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Tracing a word’s origin and evolution can yield fascinating historical insights—and the weird nicknames used in some states to describe their residents are no exception. In the Mental Floss video above, host John Green explains the probable etymologies of 29 monikers that describe inhabitants of certain states across the country.

Some of these nicknames, like “Hoosiers” and “Arkies” (which denote residents of Indiana and Arkansas, respectively) may have slightly offensive connotations, while others—including "Buckeyes," "Jayhawks," "Butternuts," and "Tar Heels"—evoke the military histories of Ohio, Kansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina. And a few, like “Muskrats” and “Sourdoughs,” are even inspired by early foods eaten in Delaware and Alaska. ("Goober-grabber" sounds goofier, but it at least refers to peanuts, which are a common crop in Georgia, as well as North Carolina and Arkansas.)

Learn more fascinating facts about states' nicknames for their residents by watching the video above.

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