Friday, March 18, 2016

March Science Cafe: March 22 -- "Gravitational waves: opening a new window on the universe", by Dr. Richard O'Shaughnessy (RIT)

Hi everyone, the Rochester Science Cafe is pleased to remind you that our March Cafe will be this coming Tuesday, March 22, at 7pm in the Community Room of the Pittsford Plaza Barnes and Noble. The speaker will be Dr. Richard O'Shaughnessy, from RIT's School of Mathematical Sciences/Center for Computational Relativity and Gravitation. While his talk will not be the first we've had about gravitational waves, it will be, as you may have heard, the first since the science community's first-ever detection of actual gravitational waves, in what was described as the most precise scientific measurement of anything, ever, in the history of mankind.

Gravitational waves: opening a new window on the universe


Last September, LIGO, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational wave Observatory, detected ripples in the fabric of the universe -- gravitational waves -- produced when, roughly one billion years ago, two binary blacks holes coalesced. But that's only the tip of the iceberg. Gravitational waves from more black holes and other objects will be found, soon. These ripples will unveil a new window on the universe, giving us access to the most luminous, exotic, and mysterious phenomena in astrophysics. In this talk I'll discuss how Einstein's legacy will enable a new perspective into our universe, opening up a new field of astronomy that complements all of our historical efforts to date that focused on electromagnetic astronomy (visible light, radio, x-rays, etc.). I'll also discuss how these new observations will allow us to understand the densest and most energetic objects in the universe, particularly neutron stars and black holes, in ways that were previously inaccessible.

For more on the announcement of the first detection of gravitational waves, you can consult the detection paper, the LIGO website, or RIT's own Center for Computational Relativity and Gravitation webpages. For more news coverage of the detection:

Our Spring 2016 series will continue on through May with the following talks:

April 26: Dr. Michael Zemcov (RIT) -- Building Detectors for Cosmology
May 24: Dr. Kara Maki (RIT) -- A Mathematician's Perception on Dry Eye Disease