Distinguished lecture series in Physics

The UW-La Crosse Distinguished Lecture Series in Physics (DLS) is co-sponsored by the UW-La Crosse Foundation, the Department of Physics, the College of Science and Health, and Wettstein's.  The purpose of the series is to bring to La Crosse each year a world-renowned physicist whose significant accomplishments can inspire and enrich the lives and careers of students, faculty, and the community in general.

2018 Distinguished Lecture Series in Physics
October 11-12, 2018

Barry C. BarishBarry C. Barish, Ph.D.
2017 Nobel Laureate in Physics

Barry Barish is the Ronald and Maxine Linde Professor of Physics, Emeritus, at Caltech and a founder of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) which, in September 2015, discovered gravitational waves from the collision of two black holes.  LIGO, using suspended mass interferometer techniques, measures tiny distortions in space-time from the passage of a gravitational wave.  The experiment continues to open new frontiers with the recent observation of the collision of two neutron stars.  Earlier in his research career, Dr. Barish performed another noteworthy experiment using high-energy neutrino collisions to reveal the quark substructure of the nucleon.  The experiment provided crucial evidence for the weak neutral current, a linchpin of the electroweak unification theory.  He has served on many important science committees, including co-chairing the High Energy Physics Advisory Panel subpanel that developed a long-range plan for U.S. high-energy physics in 2001.  From 2005 to 2013, Dr. Barish was the Director of the Global Design Effort for the International Linear Collider (ILC) that designed the proposed next generation particle accelerator.  He has been the recipient of numerous awards and prizes culminating in sharing, with Rainer Weiss and Kip Thorne, the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics for "decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves".


Thursday, October 11 - 5:00 p.m.
Public Lecture
Location:  Centennial Hall - Skogen Auditorium A, Room 1400
Reception at 4:30 p.m. - Centennial Hall, Cameron Hall of Nations

"Einstein, Black Holes, and Gravitational Waves"
Albert Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves 100 years ago, but the effects are so tiny that even Einstein thought they could never be detected.  After forty years of controversy, theorists finally developed a consensus that they really do exist.  Then the problem became whether experimental physicists could develop instruments sensitive enough to actually detect them.  The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO), using exquisitely sensitive techniques, has made the dramatic observations of gravitational waves coming from the collision of two Black Holes and, more recently, Binary Neutron Stars.  These observations have opened a totally new window on the universe.  The history, techniques, and scientific implications will be discussed.


Friday, October 12 - 3:20 p.m.
Physics Seminar (open to the public)
Location:  Centennial Hall - Skogen Auditorium A, Room 1400

"Gravitational Waves:  Detectors, Detections, and the Future"
The observation of gravitational waves came after more than fifty years of experimental efforts to develop sensitive-enough detectors to finally observe the tiny distortions in space-time from gravitational waves.  The experimental principles, techniques, and performance of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) will be presented, as well as a review of the observations of compact binary mergers to date.  The plans and prospects for gravitational-wave science in the future will also be explored.