LIGO aims to detect these changes using an instrument called an interferometer. This device splits a single laser beam into two and sends both beams shooting off perpendicularly to each other. If the beams travel equal distances, bounce off mirrors, and come back, the waves that make them up should still be in alignment when they return. But a passing gravitational wave can actually change the distance of each arm, which would change the distance that each beam travels relative to its sibling. When the beams return to their source, scientists would be able to detect this change. However, gravitational waves change the length of the interferometer's arms by an incredibly tiny amount: roughly 1/10,000th the width of an atom's nucleus. To pick up such a tiny change, LIGO must filter out all other sources of noise, including earthquakes and nearby traffic. Although LIGO found no gravitational waves in nearly a decade of operation, its recent upgrade to Advanced-LIGO should give it a better chance.