Studying the Universe from the Outside

Boss lady: 

Albert Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves—ripples in spacetime—almost a century ago. But until recently there was no way to observe them. But thanks to the work of Dr. Nergis Mavalvala and her colleagues at MIT, Einstein’s theory is now a proven phenomenon.

Last week, the ultrasensitive telescope her team built detected gravitational waves for the first time, created from the collision of two black holes some 1.3 billion years ago.


“Theoretically a consequence of violent cosmic events—the collisions of black holes, the explosive deaths of stars, or even the big bang—gravitational waves could provide a brand new lens for studying the universe,” writes Science magazine.

Women are a rarity in the sciences—LGBT Pakistani women exceedingly so. But Mavalvala, 47, told Science magazine, “I don’t mind being on the fringes of any social group.”

The self-described “out queer person of color” and mom to a 8-year-old says being an outsider, “you are less constrained by the rules.”


2 thoughts on “Studying the Universe from the Outside

  1. Not to equate myself with Ms.Mavalvala but what she says about outsiders is true. Even growing up “just” queer, one learns at a very early age that rules, as well as external validation, don’t have nearly the value most people imbue them with. And it’s a tough, hard thing for a kid to come to grips with but as an adult, it’s an invaluable strength. People try to control you with both. Hold you back with rules, encourage you with nothing but validation, the later usually as a substitute for something of actual value, like money.

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