It's complicated, but you don't have to be Albert Einstein to understand how the years-long experiment to capture gravitational waves worked. Here's explanatory videos to help.

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So, how did the scientists at Hanford capture gravitational waves? It’s complicated, but you don’t have to be Albert Einstein to understand how the grand, years-long experiment worked.

The 2.5-mile-long arms of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory, or LIGO, measure any slight movement that might be indicative of a gravitational ripple from violent astronomical events, such as two black holes colliding 1.3 billion light-years from Earth.

The scientists monitor a laser beam traveling through the L-shaped arms. The principle guiding the experiment is that a gravitational wave passing through the arms would shorten the path of the laser beam in one of the arms, and stretch the path in the other.

Still doesn’t make sense? These videos should help:

Michael Landry, the lead scientist at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, describes gravitational waves and how detectors in Hanford have been searching for them. (Steve Ringman and Danny Gawlowski / The Seattle Times)