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Exploring the warped side of the Universe

Raymond and Beverly Sackler Lecture in Astrophysics Nergis Mavalvala, MIT April 28, 2011 McDonnell Hall A02 8 pm

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Some of the most violent events in the Universe are accompanied by spectacular warpages of space-time that travel to us in the form of gravitational waves. I will describe how we search for these space-time ripples with the goal of observing the Universe with a new sense entirely. Then, surprisingly, I will link our quest to detect gravitational radiation to the bizarre world of quantum mechanics. thus connecting some of the largest scales of exploration to the some of the smallest. Join me on a journey from the far reaches of the Universe to the subatomic world.



Nergis Mavalvala is a physicist whose research links the world of quantum mechanics, usually apparent only at the atomic scale, with some of the most powerful, yet elusive, forces in the cosmos.  She received a B.A. from Wellesley College in 1990 and a Ph.D.  from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1997. She was a postdoctoral fellow and research scientist at the California Institute of Technology between 1997 and 2002. Since 2002, she has been on the Physics faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where she is now a Professor of Physics and recipient of a 2010 MacArthur "genius" award. In her spare time, she loves to bicycle long distances, play squash, and hang out with her 3-year-old son.