A copy of the <cite>Physical Reviews Letter</cite> paper announcing the discovery of gravitational waves.

A copy of the Physical Reviews Letter paper announcing the discovery of gravitational waves.

(Photo): Robert Coontz

‘We did it!’: Voices from the gravitational wave press conference

This morning, the National Science Foundation and the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) teamed up for a celebration at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Amid a large media contingent, and with tens of thousands watching via the Internet, they announced the first detection of gravitational waves. (This is the first person to see those gravitational waves.) Here are some of the voices from the momentous event.

"It’s the first time the universe has spoken to us in gravitational waves."
David Reitze, LIGO executive director at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena

“Einstein would be beaming, wouldn’t he?”
France Cordóva, director of the National Science Foundation (NSF), which has spent more than $1 billion on LIGO

“They earned their O.”
Michael Turner, a cosmologist at the University of Chicago in Illinois, noting that some astronomers complained that LIGO wouldn’t actually be an observatory but a physics experiment that likely wouldn’t see anything

Members of LIGO and NSF pose after the big announcement.

Members of LIGO and NSF pose after the big announcement.

Adrian Cho

“I thought it was a fire drill.”
Janeen Romie, detector group leader at LIGO Livingston on her reaction when news of the signal first arrived

“Rai laid it all out in this 1972 report. Here’s all the things you have to do and here’s the way you do them.”
Richard Isaacson, a former program director at NSF on how he became a booster of the unlikely project, which was dreamt up by physicist Rainer Weiss

Rainer Weiss at the New York Science Fair.

Rainer Weiss at the New York Science Fair.

Matt Weber

“I don’t think it will bring us any closer to time travel. I wish it would, but I think LIGO is heading in a different direction.”
Kip Thorne, a theorist at the Caltech who consulted on the movie Interstellar that used wormholes to travel through time, responding to a speculative question

“It has been a very, very long road, but it is just the beginning.”
Gabriela González, a physicist at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, and spokesperson for the LIGO Scientific Collaboration

“It was an ordeal, if you want to know the truth.”
Rainer Weiss, a physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge on the end of a long press conference

*See more of Science's coverage of gravitational waves.