During past year physicists and astronomers have, for the first time, directly detected gravitational waves. This phenomena, which was predicted over a century earlier by Albert Einstein as a part of his formulation of the General Theory of Relativity, has proven extremely difficult to observe because of the properties of gravity. However, a nearly half-century long effort culminating in the Laser Interferometric Gravitational Observatory (LIGO) experiment, funded by the National Science Foundation, has now detected at least gravitational wave events that are believed to be the result of the coalesence of two black holes into a single larger black hole. In this talk we will discuss both the theory and experimental effort to verify the existence of gravitational waves.
Doug Swesty is a Research Associate Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Stony Brook. After obtaining his PhD at Stony Brook in 1993 he spent six years at the Universitty of Illinois as a staff member of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications and as a Visiting Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Astronomy. He returned to Stony Brook in 1999 where he teaches and conducts research in the areas of computational and nuclear astrophysics.