Shrewsbury School

Darwin Society Lecture – 'Listening to the universe with gravitational waves'

Thursday 18 January 2018

On Friday 12th January, the Darwin Society welcomed Dr Alberto Sesana from the University of Birmingham to give the third of this year's science enrichment lectures, entitled 'Listening to the universe with gravitational waves'.

Dr Sesana is a Lecturer in the School of Physics & Astronomy at Birmingham University and University Research Fellow of the Royal Society. He gave a fascinating and topical talk on gravitational waves and black holes.

In October 2017, the eminent US physicists Rainer Weiss, Barry Barish and Kip Thorne were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for their work on gravitational waves. Dr Sesana described the groundbreaking work that led to the first historic observation of gravitational waves on 14th September 2015.

They were triggered by the violent merger of two black holes a billion light years away, and two detectors at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) detected this disturbance. This tiny signal was the echo of a very loud song, sung by a pair of black holes merging during the last fraction of a second of their lives. This will go down in history as the day we listened to the universe for the first time.

Dr Andy Briggs
Head of Science

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