To break news on gravitational waves, this takes the cake

Gravitational wave detection 'changes everything'
Gravitational wave detection 'changes everything'

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    Gravitational wave detection 'changes everything'

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Gravitational wave detection 'changes everything' 01:58

Story highlights

  • Researcher tweeted picture of cake announcing gravitational waves discovery
  • Her tweet was considered news, broke embargo on announcement for some

(CNN)A cake trumped gravitational waves.

Scientists had placed a 10:30 a.m. embargo on Thursday's news that they'd discovered gravitational waves, thus proving a key element of Einstein's theory of general relativity and rocking the scientific community.
But thanks to a casually tweeted photograph of a celebratory cake, the news got out 16 minutes early.
The guilty party was a University of Maryland research associate named Erin Lee Ryan, who works at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.
She told The Washington Post that she wasn't aware the embargo was still active, and that other employees had also taken pictures of the cake. However, she was the one whose tweet was noticed.
"When I saw all the retweets I just thought: 'Oh no,' " Ryan said. "I mean, this is the second time I've wound up tweeting a cake before an embargo!"
Yes, it's happened before.
In 2013, Ryan tweeted a cake that revealed an observation about the Saturn moon Titan.
That time she was told to "chill with the tweeting for a week or so."
Ryan has had a good sense of humor about the whole thing.
"Due to my cake tweets: collaborators now thinking we must announce our results with cake," she tweeted. "I like this plan."
Well, it took 1.3 billion for the gravitational waves to find their way to Earth. What's 16 minutes?