Celebrating Einstein’s Revolution

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Over 220 people came to join us in celebrating Einstein’s Revolution on Wednesday 9th December. With a wine and cheese reception, and three very engaging talks, it was an excellent event at which to celebrate 100 years of this remarkable theory, and Cardiff’s involvement in research around it.

Steve Fairhurst began by asking the audience what their favourite equation is, and then proceded to tell them why their favourite should in fact be the equation that describes Einstein’s masterpiece – his General Theory of Relativity.

Mark Hannam amused us all with one of the weirdest and most wonderful predictions of Einstein’s theory: black holes. He even answered the age-old question “what would happen if you fell into a black hole?” (Hint: you die.)

And finally Patrick Sutton explained how the search is on to find direct evidence for the last unfulfilled part of general relativity: gravitational waves. While there is little doubt in the scientific community that these tiny ripples in space exist, with lots of indirect evidence, they have never been seen directly, and Cardiff is part of an international collaboration which is searching for them. With the current generation of detectors placed at the LIGO detectors, the first discovery of gravitational waves is predicted to happen in the next few years – so watch this space!

Expertly chaired by our very own Mike Edmunds, there was even time for questions, which were varied in both scope and age of questioners – of course, the youngest members of the audience asked the most difficult questions, and really put the speakers on the spot.

Photo credits: Lionel London / Cardiff University