Archive for Bangalore Sathyaprakash

Einstein’s Legacy

Posted in The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , , , , , on November 29, 2015 by telescoper

Yesterday I braved the inclement weather and the perils of weekend travel on Southern Trains to visit Queen Mary College, in the East End of London, for the following event:

GR100

I used to work at  Queen Mary, but haven’t been back for a while. The college and environs have been smartened up quite a lot since I used to be there, as seems to be the case for the East End generally. I doubt if I could afford to live there now!

Owing to a little local difficulty which I won’t go into, I was running a bit late so I missed the morning session. I did, however, arrive in time to see my former colleague Bangalore Sathyaprakash from Cardiff talking about gravitational waves, Jim Hough from Glasgow talking about experimental gravity – including gravitational waves but also talking about the puzzling state of affairs over “Big G” – and Pedro Ferreira from Oxford whose talk on “Cosmology for the 21st Century” gave an enjoyable historical perspective on recent developments.

The talks were held in the Great Hall in the People’s Palace on Mile End Road, a large venue that was pretty full all afternoon. I’m not sure whether it was the District/Hammersmith & City Line or the Central Line (or both) that provided the atmospheric sound effects, especially when Jim Hough described the problems of dealing with seismic noise in gravitational experiments and a train rumbled underneath right on cue.

UPDATE: Thanks to Bryn’s comment (below) I looked at a map: the Central Line goes well to the North whereas the District and Hammersmith & City Line go directly under the main buildings adjacent to Mile End Road.

Under-QM

Anyway, the venue was even fuller for the evening session, kicked off by my former PhD supervisor, John Barrow:

Einstein's Legacy

This session was aimed at a more popular audience and was attended by more than a few A-level students. John’s talk was very nice, taking us through all the various cosmological models that have been developed based on Einstein’s theory of General Relativity.

Finally, topping the bill, was Sir Roger Penrose whose talk was engagingly lo-tech in terms of visual aids but aimed at quite a high level. His use of hand-drawn transparencies was very old-school, but a useful side-effect was that he conveyed very effectively how entropy always increases with time.

Penrose covered some really interesting material related to black holes and cosmology, especially to do with gravitational entropy, but my heart sank when he tried at the end to resurrect his discredited “Circles in the Sky” idea. I’m not sure how much the A-level students took from his talk, but I found it very entertaining.

The conference carries on today, but I couldn’t attend the Sunday session owing to pressure of work. Which I should be doing now!

P.S. I’ll say it before anyone else does: yes, all the speakers I heard were male, as indeed were the two I missed in the morning. I gather there was one cancellation  of a female speaker (Alessandra Buonanno), for whom Sathya stood in.  But still.

 

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Sathya’s Cosmic Sirens

Posted in The Universe and Stuff, Uncategorized with tags , , , on January 7, 2013 by telescoper

Bit busy today so I thought I’d just post this talk by Cardiff’s own Prof. Bangalore Sathyaprakash at last year’s TEDX event in Cardiff.
The title is Cosmic Sirens although given that the topic is gravitational waves I hope that “sirens” isn’t intended to mean those entirely mythical entities that lure unsuspecting PhD students to their ultimate destruction…

Anyway, here’s the blurb:

In 1916 Einstein predicted that dynamical mass distribution generates ripples in the very fabric of spacetime that propagates outwards at the speed of light.

For over two decades B.S. Sathyaprakash (Sathya for his family and friends) is engaged in research to detect these ripples called gravitational waves, from cataclysmic cosmic events such as exploding stars, colliding black holes and the big bang. His personal goal is to observe and understand black holes and gravity using gravitational radiation. He is the head of the gravitational physics group at Cardiff University — a centre for modelling astronomical sources of gravitational radiation, discovering innovative algorithms to search for this radiation and analyzing data from gravitational-wave detectors using massive computer clusters.

Although there is firm indirect evidence that certain astronomical systems do emit gravitational waves, so far no one has detected them directly. Sathya and his team are part of a worldwide effort, called the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, to detect these elusive waves using kilometer long laser interferometers in the US, Europe and Japan. Recently, Sathya helped develop the science case for building such a detector in India. He has been involved in the European design study of a third generation underground detector with a 30 km baseline called the Einstein Telescope, chairing the group that developed the science case for this ambitious venture.

And here is the actual talk..