Department of Physics and Astronomy
Stony Brook University
7:30 pm; ESS Building, Room 001
Friday, Sept. 4, 2015


Blowing in the Ether: Eintstein's Legacy

Prof. James Lattimer

Einstein proposed the existence of gravitational waves in 1917, barely two years after introducing his general theory of relativity. In this, the centennial year of general relativity, we are on the cusp of directly observing this radiation, which will open a new window to our universe. Ironically, Einstein subsequently had doubts as to the reality of gravitational radiation. 20 years after proposing them, he wrote a paper claiming they were unstable and would collapse in on themselves. Later, he reversed his position. In this talk, the probable sources of gravitational waves, and the instruments that have been built to detect them, will be described. Incredibly, the expected signals are so weak that they will only be detected if theorists have predicted the correct templates. Plans to improve and expand the number of current detectors will also be discussed.

Professor Lattimer has been a faculty member at Stony Brook for 36 years, and was recently named a Distinguished Professor. He specializes in the study of neutron stars and black holes. He has been awarded the Hans A. Bethe Prize, the highest accolade for nuclear astrophysics given by the American Physical Society.