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Astronomy and space

Astronomy and space

Physics World 30th anniversary podcast series – gravitational waves

28 Nov 2018 James Dacey

As regular readers will know, Physics World has just turned 30 and we have been celebrating the anniversary with a range of special content. This includes a 5-part series for our monthly podcast, Physics World Stories, exploring key areas in physics that evolved significantly during the past 30 years. This second episode in the series looks at gravitational waves by revisiting the celebrated first detections by the LIGO collaboration, then looking to the exciting future for multimessenger astronomy.

Along the way, presenter Andrew Glester speaks with several members of the LIGO team: Mark Hannam of Cardiff University; Chris Messenger from the University of Glasgow; and Lisa Barsotti from the MIT Kavli Institute who received of a New Horizons Breakthrough prize for her work on the LIGO detectors. He catches up with Paul McNamara, a project scientist on the European Space Agency’s LISA Pathfinder mission – a precursor to the first space-based gravitational wave observatory.

Glester also examines the controversy surrounding a recent analysis suggesting that LIGO has not yet discovered gravitational waves. The group at the Niels Bohr Institute in Denmark claimed in a paper on the arXiv preprint server that the positive detections could just be correlated “noise” from LIGO’s two detectors, and they have since followed up with further analyses of the LIGO data. Glester speaks with the group’s spokesperson Andrew Jackson and offers LIGO researchers the chance to respond.

If you enjoy what you hear, then you take a listen to the first episode in this special podcast series, which looked at the past and future of particle physics. Don’t forget you can also subscribe to Physics World Stories via the Apple podcast app or your chosen podcast host.

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