Six PhD students from The University of Western Australia involved in one of the most challenging international scientific endeavours ever undertaken - to directly detect vibrations of space called gravitational waves - will be awarded their doctorates this year.
Five of the students received their postgraduate degrees at a graduation ceremony last night and the sixth will attend a ceremony in the spring series of graduations. Five of the students were supervised by Winthrop Professor David Blair, Director of the UWA-based Australian International Gravitational Research Centre, and the sixth student was co-supervised by Professor Blair.
Einstein predicted gravity waves, generated by the formation of black holes in the universe. While physicists agree the theory is sound, nobody has detected them yet. Since antiquity, our only source of information about the stars has been through their electromagnetic radiation.
Developments in technology have allowed us to expand our window on the universe from strictly visible variation to infrared, microwave, radio, ultra-violet, and x-ray radiation.
Gravitational wave astronomy offers an entirely new spectrum of radiation through which to explore the universe. Whereas electromagnetic telescopes are our eyes on the universe, gravity wave detectors constitute ‘ears' which will allow us to ‘hear' for the first time the ‘sounds' produced by the universe.
Professor Blair said he and his team were among the world leaders in the race to detect the waves, despite other countries spending hundreds of millions of dollars more on their research.