skip to main content
Department of Physics and Astronomy
University of Mississippi


Event Information:

  • Fri


    4:00 pmLewis Hall 109
    Gregory Cook
    Department of Physics
    Wake Forest UniversityGravitational Waves from Colliding Black Holes: An Historical Perspective

    The landmark first direct detection of gravitational waves was announced on Feb. 11, 2016. The detection itself occurred on Sept. 14, 2015 and was the result of the collision of two black holes that happened around a billion years ago. The event marks a turning point in decades of work by hundreds of researchers. The goal of this talk is to provide at least a partial historical account of the research that lead to the detection and interpretation of this event. As a numerical relativist, my perspective will emphasize the work aimed at simulating black-hole collisions on computers. I have been involved in all aspects of the simulation of black-hole binary collisions for nearly 3 decades, with my work focusing primarily on the modeling of initial data for the simulations. However, I will try to give fair coverage of the broader theoretical and computational work involved, and a taste of the experimental milestones leading up to the detection. If time allows, I will also discuss some of my recent work exploring the ring-down signal produced by numerical simulations.