The Professor Walter Stibbs Lecture - Cracking the Einstein Code
14 April 2014
Professor Fulvio Melia, University of Arizona. Presented by the School of Physics, the Sydney Institute for Astronomy and the ARC Centre of Excellence for All-sky Astrophysics (CAASTRO)
Einstein's theory of general relativity describes the effect of gravitation on the shape of space and the flow of time. But for more than four decades after its publication, the theory remained largely a curiosity for scientists; however accurate it seemed, Einstein's mathematical code was one of the most difficult to crack in all of science. That is, until a twenty-nine-year-old Cambridge graduate from New Zealand solved the great riddle in 1963. Roy Kerr's solution emerged coincidentally with the discovery of black holes that same year and provided fertile testing ground, at long last, for general relativity.
Today, scientists routinely cite the Kerr solution, but even among specialists, few know the story of how Kerr cracked Einstein's code. In this talk, we will take a tour through the development of general relativity in the early part of the twentieth century, and see how Kerr came to make his breakthrough discovery. Today more than 300 million supermassive black holes are suspected of anchoring their host galaxies across the heavens, and the Kerr solution is what astronomers and astrophysicists use to describe much of their behavior.
Fulvio Melia is Professor of Physics, Astronomy, and Applied Mathematics at the University of Arizona, in Tucson, and John Woodruff Simpson Fellow, a chair formerly held by the Nobel laureate Niels Bohr and noted American poet Robert Frost. Fulvio has been Presidential Young Investigator, an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow, and has been an editor for the Astrophysical Journal and the Astrophysical Journal Letters. He is currently the chief editor for the University of Chicago Theoretical Astrophysics Books Series. He has been a visiting professor at numerous universities in Australia, Asia, and Europe, and has published over 250 journal articles in high-energy astrophysics, including topics on black holes, relativistic matter, and cosmology.
Professor Walter Stibbs (1919-2010) was a distinguished international researcher, best known for his contributions to stellar astrophysics, for his global scientific leadership, and for his outstanding record of mentoring students and young researchers. Professor Stibbs was a graduate of the The University of Sydney, receiving the University Medal in 1942 and an MSc in 1943. The Professor Walter Stibbs Lectureship commemorates the achievements of Professor Stibbs through an annual lecture by a distinguished astronomer of international standing.
THURSDAY 15 MAY
6 to 7.30pm Law School LT 101 Level 1, Sydney Law School Eastern Avenue The University of Sydney Click here for venue information.
Free event with online registration requested. Click here for the registration page.
Contact: Tom Gordon
Phone: 02 93513201