Gravitational wave detectors, under development for over 50 years, are finally within reach of their first direct detections. Predicted by Einstein almost 100 years ago, these elusive waves carry unique information about their exotic sources: black holes, neutron stars, cosmic strings, and the Big Bang itself. Prof. Schutz will review the nature of gravitational waves and explain why detection is analogous to listening to sounds with microphones.
He will describe the various detection methods now being employed: ground-based detectors like LIGO, Virgo, and GEO600; space-based proposals like eLISA; and pulsar timing with arrays of radio telescopes. He will look ahead at the kinds of things we will learn about the universe over the next decades.
Bernard F. Schutz is an American physicist. His research is on Einstein's theory of general relativity, more concretely on the physics of gravitational waves. He is one of the directors and head of the astrophysics group at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics in Potsdam, Germany. He is principal investigator in charge of data analysis for the GEO600 collaboration (which, in turn, is part of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, the largest concerted effort to directly detect gravitational waves).
Schutz is also a member of the science team coordinating the planning and development for the space-borne gravitational wave detector LISA (Laser Interferometer Space Antenna), and he was instrumental in the foundation of the electronic, open access review journal Living Reviews in Relativity.