2016 Segré Lecture: Beginning the Exploration of the Universe with Gravitational Waves

Date: 
Monday, October 3, 2016 - 6:00pm
Author/Speaker: 
Affiliation: 
MIT, on behalf of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration
Public Lecture: 
Yes

Beginning the Exploration of the Universe with Gravitational Waves
Rainer Weiss, MIT on behalf of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration

The recent observation of gravitational waves from the merger of binary black holes opens a new way to learn about the universe as well as to test General Relativity in the limit of strong gravitational interactions – the dynamics of massive bodies traveling at relativistic speeds in a highly curved space-time. The lecture will describe some of the difficult history of gravitational waves proposed exactly 100 years ago.  The concepts used in the instruments and the methods for data analysis that enable the measurement of gravitational wave strains of 10-21 and smaller will be presented. The results derived from the measured waveforms, their relation to the Einstein field equations and the astrophysical implications are discussed. The talk will end with our vision for the future of gravitational wave astronomy.