The science of persistence

“It is more likely that there are numerous universes…”

“Unless God put a wall behind ours”, one Brian stated.

“Or Donald Trump does”, the other Brian quickly quipped in return and the audience began laughing.

This was part of a discussion that elegantly skimmed across a whole range of ideas through string theory, quantum mechanics, relativity and the recently observed gravitational waves.

And those gravitational waves, predicted by Einstein 100 years ago – they’ve rolled themselves into our world. The world you and I orbit where certain bits of science become illuminating, fascinating and popular. If you’ve no idea what I’m talking about, watch this piece on the Stephen Colbert show explaining the discovery (incidentally this is one of the same Brian’s from the discussion above).

These scientists at LIGO, who understand complex theories and formulas of the fabric of space, far beyond the basic math most of us can master, discovered these waves that stretch and bend space-time…distortions of less than an atomic diameter (in human words, teeny tiny tiny).

So how did they detect them (and why do we care)?

Through lasers. Via a pair of merging black holes. And then through 40 years of persistence.

40 years of having to get funding from something they weren’t sure was going to happen.

40 years of persevering through frustration and doubt.

40 years of wondering whether the technology could actually detect something so teeny we can’t comprehend it’s smallness.

A result created from 50 times the power of all the stars in our universe (the power released by the colliding black holes) in just 20 milliseconds. Less than the time it’s taken you to read just one of these words.

And the scientists of the talk I had the privilege to sit in on, said three things about this discovery and of being a scientist, that I think apply to just about everything.

You need to persist. You need to have some luck. And you need to have the right constitution to keep with it. 

What we do in business is exactly the same. And that goes for life too. 

Across disciplines, the most knowledgeable scientists on Earth need to adhere to these principles and unlike their formulas, these things are easy for us to understand. They’re human.

And they’re something we can apply every day.

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