Einstein’s Masterpiece: 100 years of testing general relativity, from Eddington to LIGO and Virgo and beyond


Prof Martin Hendry

The Astronomical Society of Glasgow's next public lecture for the 2019 - 2020 session will be Thursday 21st November, when Professor Martin Hendry,  Professor of Gravitational Astrophysics and Cosmology at the University of Glasgow, will be presenting "Einstein’s Masterpiece: 100 years of testing general relativity, from Eddington to LIGO and Virgo and beyond".

The lecture programme will start promptly at 7:30pm.

This lecture will take place in Room 6.41, Royal College, Strathclyde University

2019 has been a special year in the history of general relativity as it marks 100 years since the expeditions, to Sobral in Brazil and the island of Principe off the west coast of Africa, to observe the total eclipse of 29 May 1919 – which provided the first successful observational test of Einstein’s theory of gravity and its prediction of the bending of starlight passing close to the limb of the Sun.   In this lecture I will briefly recount the story of the 1919 eclipse expeditions – describing how the teams obtained and analysed their data and how their results were later presented to the scientific world, making Einstein a global celebrity almost overnight.  I will then bring the story of testing GR fully up to date, by reviewing the latest LIGO and Virgo observations of the mergers of binary black holes and neutron stars – and how these observations are improving our understanding of strong gravity.  Finally, I will describe how future LIGO and Virgo observations, or those of spaceborne gravitational-wave detectors like the LISA satellite set for launch in 2034, should provide further valuable insights into the the “dark side of the Universe”.


Aerial view of the Virgo gravitational wave detector near Pisa, Italy
Image: Virgo Collaboration

 

Martin Hendry is Professor of Gravitational Astrophysics and Cosmology at the University of Glasgow, where he is also Head of the School of Physics and Astronomy. He is a senior member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC), serving on the LSC Management Team and chairing the LSC Education and Public Outreach Group.  He is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics, the Royal Astronomical Society and the Royal Society of Edinburgh. 

 

The lecture will take place in Room 6.41, Royal College, Strathclyde University.  Access is via the Montrose Street entrance, take the lift to Level 3, exit the lift (turning left) and take the 2nd (furthest away) set of steps, and go through the double glass doors.  Room 6.41 is on your left approximately half way along the corridor.