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Gravitational Waves: A New Era of Astronomy Begins

Saturday, June 4, 2016
8:00 pm - 9:30 pm

On September 14th, 2015, a ripple in the fabric of space, created by the violent collision of two distant black holes over a billion years ago, washed across the Earth. As it did, two laser-based detectors, 50 years in the making – one in Louisiana and the other in Washington State – momentarily twitched, confirming a century-old prediction by Albert Einstein and marking the opening of a new era in astronomy. Join some of the very scientists responsible for this most anticipated discovery of our age and see how gravitational waves will be used to explore the universe like never before.

This program will feature exclusive footage from director Les Guthman’s upcoming documentary chronicling the drama of the gravitational waves discovery.

The Kavli Prize recognizes scientists for their seminal advances in astrophysics, nanoscience, and neuroscience. The series, “The Big, the Small, and the Complex” is sponsored by The Kavli Foundation and The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.


Brian GreenePhysicist, Author

Brian Greene is a professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia University, and is recognized for a number of groundbreaking discoveries in his field of superstring theory. His books, The Elegant Universe, The Fabric of the Cosmos, and The Hidden Reality, have collectively spent 65 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list.

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Barry BarishPhysicist

Barry Barish is an experimental physicist and a Linde Professor of Physics, emeritus at Caltech. He became the Principal Investigator of LIGO in 1994 and was LIGO Director from 1997-2005. Barish led the effort through the approval of funding by the NSF National Science Board in 1994, and the construction and commissioning of the LIGO interferometers in Livingston, LA and Hanford, WA in 1997.

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Nergis MavalvalaPhysicist

Nergis Mavalvala is a physicist whose research links the world of quantum mechanics, usually apparent only at the atomic scale, with some of the most powerful, yet elusive, forces in the cosmos.

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Frans PretoriusPhysicist

Frans Pretorius is a Professor of Physics at Princeton University. His primary field of research is general relativity, specializing in numerical solution of the Einstein equations.

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David ShoemakerAstrophysicist

David Shoemaker is the Director of the MIT LIGO Lab and the Leader of the Advanced LIGO Project to build the detectors used in the discovery of gravitational waves.

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Rai WeissPhysicist

Rai Weiss is known for his pioneering measurements of the spectrum of the cosmic microwave background radiation and his seminal leadership in the conception, design and operation of the laser interferometer gravitational wave detector; remarkable scientific achievements recognized by his roles as a co-founder and an intellectual leader of both the COBE Project and LIGO.

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