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CIRSS Seminar - Wednesday: Listening to whispers: digging for gravitational wave signals

Wednesday, October 24, 2018
Noon - 1pm

126 IS

Event Details

Session leaders: Bernard Schutz, Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Cardiff University
Description: LIGO and its European partner Virgo have made scientific history by detecting gravitational waves, first from a succession of mergers of black holes, and last year from a spectacular merger of two neutron stars. This is a triumph of experimental physics and engineering, but also of data analysis: most of the science requires digging deep into instrumental noise for the shapes and directions of the signals. I will describe how this works and how it will work even better when the upgraded detectors begin observations again in February, and better again when telescopes like LSST and further detectors come into service. But on the horizon is the LISA space-based observatory: with its ultra-quiet sensors, it will be listening to tens of thousands of signals all at the same time, and separating them is our next huge challenge.

I hold a half-time professorship at Cardiff University, 25% in the School of Physics and Astronomy, and 25% in the Data Innovation Research Institute (DIRI), of which I was previously the director. My work in Physics is primarily on gravitational wave detection and astronomy; I am a senior member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration. Around 1990, my Cardiff group was the first to develop and apply techniques to recognise weak gravitational wave signals buried in noise. Two decades later this led to my interest in Big Data, which is the research area of the DIRI. At the DIRI I am interested in the use of artificial intelligence to find hidden information in any kind of data. I am also an Emeritus Director of the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute) in Potsdam, Germany, where I was a director from its founding in 1995 until my retirement in 2014. While there, I established in 1998 the open-access journal Living Reviews in Relativity, which has become the highest-impact open-access journal in the world. My interests in open-access publishing, open data, and Big Data led to my becoming co-chair of the Reproducibility Interest Group of the international Research Data Alliance. Finally, I hold the position of Adjunct Professor of Physics at Georgia Institute of Technology in the USA.

Thank you to NCSA, the Departments of Astronomy, Computer Science, Electrical and Computing Engineering, Physics, and the Coordinated Science Laboratory for co-hosting this event.