Event Type:

Lonseth Lecture

Date/Time:

Tuesday, May 10, 2005 - 07:00

Location:

LaSells Stewart Center

Guest Speaker:

Institution:

Institute for Mathematics and its Applications, University of Minnesota

Abstract:

Contemporary understanding of the cosmos is based on on Einstein's amazing insight that gravity is simply a manifestation of curvature. One ineluctable, though subtle, consequence of this theory of general relativity, is that violent cosmic events--imagine two black holes wildly orbiting around each other in the moments before they merge--emit gravitational signals that propagate off into space. The nascent field of gravitational astronomy seeks to use these tiny ripples on surface of spacetime as our first window to the universe looking outside of the electromagnetic spectrum. The technological and scientific challenges of detecting gravity waves are immense, but the mathematical difficulties which must to be overcome to interpret these signals through computer simulation of general relativity may be the greatest of all. This lecture, held during the centenary of Einstein's annus mirabilis and on the heels of 2005 Mathematics Awareness Month dedicated to the theme Mathematics and the Cosmos, will discuss the fascinating emerging science of gravitational astronomy and the mathematics and mathematical challenges at its heart.