More than hundred years ago, Einstein predicted that space time was dynamic, and that there were ripples in space time traveling at the speed of light, or gravitational waves. On September 14, 2015, the two Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors in Hanford, Wash., and Livingston, La., registered, for the first time, a loud gravitational wave signal traveling through Earth, created more than a billion years ago from the merger of two black holes. A few months later in December, another signal, also from black holes, was detected. These observations marked the beginning of gravitational wave astronomy.

Dr. Gabriela Gonzalez, an experimental physicist who has led the LIGO Scientific Collaboration for five years, describes the details of the observation, the status of gravitational wave detectors, and the gravity-bright future of the field. Her lecture was sponsored by the Kibbe Science Lecture Fund.

Gonzalez was born and raised in Cordoba, Argentina and studied physics at the University of Cordoba, where she earned a Master of Science degree. She came to the US to pursue and attain her PhD from Syracuse University. Her doctorate focused on Brownian motion and gravitational waves, work that took her to universities across the US including MIT, Penn State, and LSU. She is currently a professor of physics and astronomy at Louisiana State University and was recently named one of the top ten scientists in the world by the scientific journal Nature.

Sponsored by the Kibbe Science Lecture Fund.