November 9, 2017

Gravitational waves: the new messenger from the Cosmos

Chaired by

Orfeu Bertolami
Rivoli - Grande Auditório MO

In 1915, Albert Einstein completely altered our perception of space-time by formulating the General Relativity Theory, which contemplates mathematical solutions that describe bizarre objects such as black holes, as well as the history and evolution of the Universe itself. In 1916, he demonstrated that his theory predicted the existence of perturbations that propagate within the space-time structure in the form of waves, later known as gravitational waves. One hundred years later, LIGO Scientific Collaboration – project that has been awarded with the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics – has conducted experiments which confirm their existence. This discovery will be described to us by David Shoemaker, spokesman for LIGO and a renowned figure of physics today, who will also tell us that Einstein was mistaken in certain respects ... but was fundamentally right.

David Shoemaker will talk about recent scientific discoveries of gravitational waves and demonstrate that Einstein was right in asserting their existence, but was wrong to think that they couldn’t be observed. In a conversation with Orfeu Bertolami, a professor at the Department of Physics and Astronomy of the University of Porto, David Shoemaker will show how technological evolution enabled the Advanced LIGO project to detect, in 2015 – for the first time in history – the gravitational waves generated by the collision of two black holes. New observations have been made since then, and the respective analysis enables us to glimpse the exciting prospect of observing the Universe via gravitational waves, these extraordinary messengers from the Cosmos. Just as Einstein's scientific vision irreversibly conditioned our image of the world, these discoveries will forever change the way we look at the Universe.

Simultaneous interpretation