Gabriela Gonzalez, member of the new National Science Foundation-funded Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) Project, will deliver the Ralph E. and Doris M. Hansmann Lecture at Hamilton College on Monday, April 16, at 8 p.m. in the Kirner-Johnson Auditorium. The lecture, "Gravitational Waves: A New Window to the Universe," is free and open to the public.
The Hansmann Lecture series was established in 1993 in honor of Hansmann, class of 1940, and his wife, to support annual lectures in any field. Fields are designated on a three-year rotating basis.
Gravitational waves provide a new and unique way to look at the universe, making possible the study of black holes and strong gravity fields. Even though their existence was predicted by Einstein at the beginning of the century, they are weak enough to have escaped detection so far. Large-scale interferometric observatories are being built around the world to find the elusive waves and create a new and different map of the sky. The LIGO Project, located in Hanford, WA, and Livingston, LA, will play a leading role in this worldwide effort. Gonzalez will describe the allure of gravitational waves, the experimental challenge involved in their detection, and the exciting prospects for the near future. Being able to see the universe through these ripples of space-time will open a completely new "view" of the sky.