But not the dark lonely corner of it we're used to. This is
a glittering inferno -- the center of a distant galaxy.
Suddenly, something TEARS past at incredible speed: a NEUTRON
STAR. It SMASHES headlong through everything it encounters...
planets, stars. Can anything stop this juggernaut?
Yes. Something looms at the heart of the galaxy, hidden
inside the blinding starlight, a dark flaw in the fabric of
existence itself: a BLACK HOLE.
The neutron star is pulled into the black hole's swirl,
spiraling closer and closer to destruction. Finally, it
contacts the hole's edge and EXPLODES.
The EXPLOSION is so powerful that it sends shock waves into
the fabric of space-time itself. We ride one of these waves,
racing back out from the black hole.
Suddenly, a portion of the wave disappears down a crystal-
like hole, emerging in a much darker region of the universe --
a backwater that, as the wave races past a giant red planet
with a distinctive eye, we recognize as our own.
The wave, now just an infinitesimal ripple, finally reaches
our blue planet. It drops into our atmosphere over North
America, toward the high desert east of the Cascades, and
through the roof of a nondescript warehouse.
The wave tickles the atoms in the steel shell of a vacuum
chamber, then dances a tiny jig with a laser beam reflected
in a heavy piece of glass.
The wave shoots back out of the building and disappears in
the fractal branches of a tumbleweed resting against a
concrete tube that stretches for miles in the desert.
An SUV speeds past the tumbleweed and we follow it till it
parks at another plain-looking building at the opposite end
of the tube. A MAN climbs out of the SUV.
INT. CONTROL ROOM, WAREHOUSE -- DAY
The man lets himself into a large room that looks like Mission
Control. He pours himself a cup of coffee. It is the weekend
and the place is empty. No one has been there to see the
displays flashing a distinctive shape -- a pulse followed by
a series of echoes.
The man looks up at the screen, then DROPS his cup of coffee.
INT. LIGO OFFICES, CALTECH, PASADENA -- DAY
The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory
headquarters at Caltech is a frenzy of activity. POSTDOCS
and RESEARCHERS huddle around monitors and printouts, arguing.
ANSEN, 60s, the director of LIGO, walks through the frenzy.
A postdoc hands him a printout: a pulse followed by echoes.
INT. LIGO DIRECTOR'S OFFICE, CALTECH -- DAY
Ansen steps into the relative calm of a large, sunlit office,
which overlooks a grassy stretch of Caltech's campus.