Saturday, October 16, 2021 at 7:00 PM EDT

Spacetime Symphony: Gravitational Waves and Black Holes

This is a hybrid presentation that will be in-person at the observatory and streamed as a Zoom Webinar. Vaccinations and masks are required at the observatory for this presentation. More info on visiting the observatory and group reservations can be found by viewing our contact and reservation form webpages.

Dr. Lynn Cominsky from Sonoma State University will present an introduction to gravitational waves, black holes and the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) . She will also discuss the gravitational wave detection results reported to date from LIGO and Virgo (another gravitational wave interferometer). On September 14, 2015, LIGO received the first confirmed gravitational wave signals. Now known as GW150914, the event represents the coalescence of two distant black holes that were previously in mutual orbit. LIGO’s exciting discovery provides direct evidence of what is arguably the last major unconfirmed prediction of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity and has launched the new field of gravitational-wave astronomy.

Professor Cominsky grew up in the snows of Buffalo, New York, and attended college at Brandeis University, where she studied Chemistry and Physics. After graduating from college, she worked at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, analyzing data from the first X-ray astronomy satellite, Uhuru. When she found out that she could get paid for studying black holes, she went to graduate school in physics at MIT, and after getting her PhD there in 1981, she moved to California. She has been on the faculty at Sonoma State University for over 35 years, and chaired the Department of Physics and Astronomy for 15 years before stepping down in 2019. She is also the director and founder of SSU’s EdEon STEM Learning Center, formerly known as the Education and Public Outreach group. EdEon is involved in programs that build rocket payloads and CubeSats, as well as developing and testing STEM curricula and other education products. EdEon also runs a robotic telescope north of campus that can be used over the internet by high school and college students nation-wide. On a personal note, she and her husband, who is also a physicist, live at the Little H-bar Ranch in Petaluma, California, where they are the servants to three horses, two miniature horses, two cats, seven chickens, a three-legged goat, one rabbit and one dog.


Zoom Meeting

Time: October 16, 2021 7:00 PM Eastern Time
Meeting ID:  880 5340 6571
Passcode: program

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