College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

UM Professor Leads Million-Dollar Laser Exhibit

A University of Mississippi professor will serve as the principal investigator for a $1 million astronomy outreach program that premiered today in New York City.  “Astronomy’s New Messengers: Listening to the Universe with Gravitational Waves” is being presented in conjunction with the World Science Festival in New York and is funded by the National Science Foundation and the LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory) Scientific Collaboration.

“The LIGO scientific endeavor is motivated by the same desire for exploration, the curiosity for the unknown and the awe of nature which motivated humankind throughout millennia of history,” said Mark Cavaglia, principal investigator for Astronomy’s New Messengers and UM assistant professor of physics and astronomy. “In this respect, science and art are two facets of the same human quest for beauty and truth.”

The interpretive exhibition offers an up-close look at the work of a dynamic group of more than 800 physicists and astronomers from across the globe. These scientists have joined together to search for gravitational waves from the most violent astrophysical events in the universe.

According to a LIGO press release, the LIGO telescope is revolutionary in its ability to observe, for the first time, ripples in the fabric of space-time caused by massive cosmic events. The interactive exhibit, which opened June 2, features a model interferometer with laser, a space-time curvature simulation, a light sculpture representing the universe, games to find the hidden gravitational wave in the static universe and a mirror from the real LIGO.

The June 2 premiere is the beginning of a two-year innovative outreach project on art and science to be administered by the University of Mississippi. The Astronomy’s New Messengers exhibit will be open daily June 2-6 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Broad Street Ballroom, 41 Broad Street, New York. Admission is free.

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