Lecture - Physics Department
Helen and Morton Sternheim Lecture
Joseph Taylor, Princeton University
Refreshments at 3:45 pm
Published in 1915, Albert Einstein's theory of General Relativity appeared to imply the existence of gravitational waves: an entirely new form of energy and radiation. However, physical reality of these implied waves was doubted by many, including Einstein himself, for well over half a century.
A 1974 discovery made in the UMass Department of Physics and Astronomy, together with more detailed follow-up measurements extending over many years, has laid all such doubts to rest. Moreover, it provided persuasive justification for funding what became a successful billion-dollar experiment to detect gravitational waves directly.
The century-long effort to better understand some of Nature's most fundamental laws makes a fascinating and entertaining story. It is a superb example of the scientific method at work -- warts, blind alleys, and all.
This lecture is intended for a general audience: no pre-requisites required, beyond an interest in Nature's truths!