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University of Mississippi

UM Physicist Katherine Dooley Talks Einstein at Next Science Café

History of Einstein and his famous theory topic of Nov. 17 session


The centennial of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity is the topic for a monthly public science forum organized by the University of Mississippi Department of Physics and Astronomy.

The fall semester’s fourth meeting of the Oxford Science Café is set for 6 p.m. Tuesday (Nov. 17) at Lusa Bakery Bistro and Bar, 1120 N. Lamar Blvd.

Katherine Dooley, UM assistant professor of physics and astronomy, will discuss “Curved Space-Time: Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of General Relativity.” Admission is free.

“November 1915 was a revolutionary month in the history of science,” Dooley said. “Einstein published a series of four papers, week upon week, culminating with his presentation of the field equations of general relativity.”

Dooley’s 45-minute presentation will include discussions of how Einstein’s theory has survived tests of its validity.

“He told us that what we thought we knew about gravity from our everyday experience is not the whole story,” she said. “Gravity is the result of massive objects warping space and time. After 100 years, his theory has survived a series of continuous tests of its validity.”

In cosmology, the quality of scientists’ observations of very distant regions of the universe has improved dramatically in recent years.

“I will tell some of the early story of Einstein’s rise to becoming a pop star and show examples of some of the bizarre consequences of his theory,” Dooley said.

Dooley earned her bachelor’s degree from Vassar College and a doctorate from the University of Florida. Before joining the UM faculty, she was a postdoctoral researcher at the California Institute of Technology and Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics, also known as the Albert Einstein Institute, in Hannover, Germany.

Awards Dooley has received include the 2010 Tom Scott Award for distinction in research at Florida and a Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory student fellowship from Cal Tech. Having worked directly with both the original and Advanced LIGO projects, Dooley spent four years at the LIGO Livingston site, first installing new hardware to upgrade the initial LIGO detectors and then commissioning the interferometer. She also holds membership in the American Physical Society.

Dooley’s research interest is experimental gravitational-wave physics.

Predicted by Einstein in his general theory of relativity, gravitational waves are extremely small ripples in space-time created by the movements of massive objects such as colliding black holes or exploding stars. A network of gravitational-wave detectors is being built around the world to make the first direct detection of gravitational waves, a momentous event thatastrophysicists predict will occur within the next few years.

For more information about Oxford Science Cafe programs, visit For more information about the Department of Physics and Astronomy, visit or call 662-915-5311.