Schedule Apr 12, 2000
The Future of Gravity
Dr. James Hartle, UCSB
Gravity is an immediate fact of everyday experience, but its fundamental understanding presents some of the deepest theoretical and experimental challenges in physics today. The modern approach to gravity as the geometry of curved space and time is based on Einstein's general theory of relativity. Einstein's theory stands on some of the most accurately tested principles in science, yet one of its most basic predictions --- gravitational waves --- has never been detected on Earth. Gravitational physics is concerned with some of the most exotic large scale phenomena in the universe --- black holes, pulsars, quasars, the final destiny of stars, the Big Bang, and the universe itself. But gravitational physics is also concerned with the microscopic quantum structure of space and time and the unification of all forces. Gravity is thus important on both the largest and smallest scales considered in contemporary physics. This talk will give a broad brush survey of the present state of our understanding of gravity and the dramatic prospects for improvements in that understanding from new experiments in the next decade.
About the Speaker:  James Hartle has been a member of the UCSB physics department since 1966. His scientific work is concerned with the application of Einstein's relativistic theory of gravity --- general relativity --- to realistic astrophysical situations, especially cosmology. He has contributed to the understanding of gravitational waves, relativistic stars, and black holes. He is currently interested in the quantum origin of the universe and the earliest moments of the big bang when the subjects of quantum mechanics, quantum gravity, and cosmology overlap. He is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a former Faculty Research Lecturer, and a past director of the Institute for Theoretical Physics.

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