University of Minnesota
School of Physics & Astronomy

Physics and Astronomy Calendar

Friday, May 6th 2016
4:00 pm:
Henry Erikson Lecturer in 101 Fraser Hall
Speaker: Dr. Jay Marx, Senior Advisor, LIGO Laboratory, California Institute of Technology
Subject: The Discovery of Gravitational Waves from Merging Black Holes

On February 11, 2016 headlines announced the discovery of gravitational waves from a merging pair of black holes 1.3 billion light years away, confirming the most radical prediction of Einstein’s theory of gravity. What is this all about? What are gravitational waves? Why is it so important?

This discovery was made by LIGO using instruments spanning miles and yet capable of measuring distances with an accuracy of one billionth the size of an atom, among the most precise instruments ever constructed. LIGO now involves about 1000 scientists and engineers from 80 universities in 16 countries around the world, including the University of Minnesota.

This talk will explain the excitement, what the discovery means, how it was made and why it will open a new window on the universe. The presentation will be aimed at non-scientists with many videos and photos and no equations or jargon.

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