Special IOP Scotland Lecture: The Hunt for Gravitational Waves


Capture“Listening to Einstein’s Universe: the hunt for gravitational waves”

Professor Martin Hendry (University of Glasgow and LIGO Scientific Collaboration)

The spring series of Institute of Physics Scotland public lectures in Glasgow begins on Thursday 25th February at 6pm, with a special lecture on the discovery of gravitational waves.   This lecture will be accessible to S1 and upwards.   It is hoped that the lecture will be recorded.

One hundred years ago Albert Einstein predicted the existence of invisible gravitational waves – ripples in spacetime produced by some of the most violent events in the universe: exploding stars, colliding black holes, perhaps even the Big Bang itself.   By the time these ripples reach the Earth, however, they are incredibly weak, and have never been detected directly – until now.

On September 14th 2015 two giant laser interferometers known as LIGO, the most sensitive scientific instruments ever built, detected gravitational waves from the merger of a pair of massive black holes more than a billion light years from the Earth.   LIGO estimated that the peak gravitational-wave power radiated during the final moments of this merger was more than ten times greater than the combined light power from all the stars and galaxies in the observable Universe.

Join Professor Martin Hendry as he recounts the inside story of this remarkable discovery – hailed by many as the scientific breakthrough of the century. Learn about the amazing technology behind the LIGO detectors, which can measure the signatures of spacetime ripples less than a million millionth the width of a human hair, and explore the exciting future that lies ahead for gravitational-wave astronomy as we open an entirely new window on the Universe.

The lecture is in Lecture Theatre 2 of the Boyd Orr Building, University Avenue, on the main campus of Glasgow University. (You can find the Boyd Orr Building on the campus map at

Lecture is free and open to all, and is organised in collaboration with Glasgow University Physoc and Astrosoc.

The full spring programme will be available shortly, and will feature another special lecture in May, at the Technology and Innovation Centre of Strathclyde University.   Watch this space!

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