For more than 50 years, scientists have endeavored to detect gravitational waves from galactic and extra-galactic astrophysical sources. Beginning in the 1960's, a series of ever more sensitive instruments were constructed to search for them. Alas, no gravitational waves have been found yet.
With Advanced LIGO about to come online, we have strong reasons to believe that is about to change. In this colloquium I'll discuss gravitational waves, what makes them so interesting and challenging to detect, and how Advanced LIGO will use really big interferometers to hunt for them. Gravitational wave science cuts across a broad swath of disciplines, among them general relativity, classical and quantum optics, materials science, high performance computing, and multi-messenger astronomy, so there should be something in the talk for everyone.