For almost 20 years, Prof. Bernard Schutz played a key role in the international success of the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics, being instrumental in revitalising research into applying Einstein's theory of general relativity in astrophysics.
At the Albert Einstein Institute, Prof. Schutz led the Astrophysical Relativity department. His work in theoretical astrophysics - studies on theoretical calculations of gravitational wave signals, and the development of methods for analysing gravitational wave signals – have made him one of the internationally leading experts in the field of general relativity research.
Prof. Schutz was awarded the Amaldi Gold Medal of the Italian Society of General Relativity and Gravitation. He is an Hononary Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, a Fellow of the International Society for General Relativity and Gravitation and a Fellow of the American Physical Society as well as the Institute of Physics in the UK. He also received an honorary Doctorate of Science from Glasgow University.
Presently Director of the Data Innovation Institute at Cardiff University, he is the Principal Investigator responsible for data analysis for the GEO600 collaboration - part of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration - and a member of the eLISA Science Team guiding the development of the ESA mission to place a gravitational wave detector in space. eLISA is currently approved for launch in 2034-6.
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By looking far out into space, we can see back almost to the dawn of time. Faint microwave light is reaching us now that set off on its journey almost 14 billion years ago. It carries a picture of what the Universe looked like back then, and helps us find out how galaxies like our own Milky Way came to be here billions of years later.
It also helps us discover what was happening at the Big Bang itself. In her lecture, Professor Dunkley talked about the space satellites and telescopes at the South Pole and in Chile that are being used to study this light, and what we are learning from them about the beginning of the Universe.
Jo Dunkley is a Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Oxford. Her research is in cosmology, studying the origins and evolution of the Universe, and Jo teaches undergraduate and graduate physics students. She was awarded the Maxwell Medal and the Fowler Prize for work on the Cosmic Microwave Background.
The European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) is a future ground-based optical and infrared telescope. With a primary mirror diameter of 39m, it will be the largest optical-infrared telescope in the world when it enters operation in the middle of the next decade.
Construction work is underway at the telescope site in Chile. In this talk Isobel discusses some highlights from the science case for the E-ELT, which ranges from studies of exo-planets to the most distant galaxies and cosmology. She describes the telescope design and plans for the instrumentation suite, before discussing the current status of the project.
Professor Isobel Hook is from the University of Oxford and INAF - Observatory of Rome. As the Chair of the E-ELT Science Working Group and a current member of the E-ELT Project Science Team, Isobel Hook has been central to the development of the most ambitious project ever attempted by European astronomers.
The Herschel is a European Space Agency satellite launched in May 2009 to study the far infrared properties of the Universe. The satellite has performed well above expectations and has produced important results ranging from asteroids to the most distant galaxies. In his lecture, Professor Griffin will describe the scientific impact of Herschel and the future prospects for far infrared wavelength astronomy.
Professor Matt Griffin is the Principle Investigator of the SPIRE instrument on the Herschel Space Observatory.
Called "Are we alone?", the lecture explored the search for extraterrestrial intelligence and the prospects of finding it in the next few decades.
Aliens abound on the movie screens, but in reality we are still trying to find out if we share our universe with other sentient creatures. Intelligence is very difficult to define, and impossible to directly detect over interstellar distances.
Therefore, SETI is actually an attempt to detect evidence of another distant technology. If we find such evidence, we will infer the existence of intelligent technologists.
For the past 50 years, the SETI community has had a very pragmatic definition of intelligence - the ability to build large transmitters.
The majority of SETI searches to date have looked for radio signals coming from distant civilizations. We've recently begun looking for very short optical pulses as well. As our own technology matures and innovates, we may try other means of searching, and we will certainly improve upon the searches that we are already conducting.
Dr Jill Tarter is from the Center for SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) in San Francisco, California.