The University of Southampton

Nobel prize winner to explain gravitational waves at prestigious Southampton lecture

Published: 11 September 2018
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Professor Rainer Weiss is the 2017 Nobel Laureate for Physics.

The 2017 Nobel Laureate for Physics Professor Rainer Weiss will explain gravitational waves at the University of Southampton next month.

Professor Rainer Weiss, an Emeritus Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), will be giving the annual lecture for the University’s Southampton Theory Astrophysics and Gravity (STAG) Research Centre on Wednesday 3 October at 2.30pm.

On 14 September 2015 gravitational waves, ripples in space-time, were detected for first time. Such ripples in the fabric of space-time are caused by some of the most violent processes in the Universe and the specific waves detected in 2015 were due to a pair of black holes merging together nearly 1.3 billion light years away.

Gravitational waves were predicted by Einstein about 100 years ago and the quest to detect them spanned half a century. Professor Weiss was at the centre of these efforts and he was awarded the 2017 Nobel prize in Physics for this discovery. He won half the prize, with Kip Thorne and Barry Barish sharing the other half.

The lecture will describe the history of gravitational wave detection, the techniques used by the instruments and the state-of-the-art data analysis that enables the measurement of gravitational waves. The links with Einstein’s theory of relativity and the astrophysical implications will also be discussed. The talk will end with a vision for the future of gravitational wave astronomy.

Director of the STAG Research Centre, Professor Kostas Skenderis, says: “It is a tremendous privilege to have Professor Rainer Weiss delivering our keynote address. The detection of gravitational waves, 100 years after they were first proposed by Einstein, is one of the most important scientific discoveries of our times and Professor Weiss has been a leader and a pioneer in the effort that led to this momentous discovery.”

The STAG Research Centre brings together world-leading academics from three research fields – Theoretical Particle Physics, Astronomy and General Relativity – to improve our understanding of the Universe and the fundamental laws of nature.

STAG researchers explore problems ranging from the ultimate building blocks of matter to dynamics on cosmological scales, and actively engage with high-profile international experiments and observational facilities.

The annual STAG Public Lectures bring to Southampton highly distinguished guests to explain some of the greatest achievements in fundamental science.

To book your tickets for the talk, which is taking place at Turner Sims on the University’s Highfield campus, please visit the venue's website or call the Box Office on 023 8059 5151.

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