Peter Shawhan

University of Maryland, LIGO



The Remarkable Story of LIGO's Detection of Gravitational Waves




In February, LIGO scientists announced the direct detection of gravitational waves, confirming a century-old prediction of Einstein's general theory of relativity.  This milestone was finally made possible with the incredibly sensitive Advanced LIGO detectors, combined with a certain measure of luck.  The spectacular first event, detected in September 2015 from the merger of a pair of rather heavy stellar-mass black holes, was followed by a second clear event in December (and also a hint of a third, in October).  These first events have given us our first view of the properties of gravitational-wave sources and enabled us to perform tests of general relativity as the leading theory of gravity.  I will share the scientific meaning of the discovery, some of the personal stories behind it, and prospects for future discoveries.



Coffee and Tea at 4:30 p.m.