Stephen Penn explains Einstein Theory at HWS

Associate Professor of Physics Steven Penn, a member of the pioneering research team that has detected gravitational waves for the first time, lead a presentation about the project at Hobart and William Smith Colleges on Thursday. Penn played a major role in the mirror substrate and coating design for the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) Research Project, which has confirmed a major prediction of Albert Einstein’s 1915 general theory of relativity and opens an unprecedented new window onto the cosmos. The HWS presentation was held in conjunction with a press conference by the National Science Foundation. Penn, a co-author on the Physical Review Letters article announcing the detection, joined the LIGO Science Collaboration in 1998 while a postdoctoral fellow at Syracuse University. HWS became one of the first small colleges to join the LSC when Penn joined the faculty in 2002. Penn’s original LSC research was on the mirror design for Advanced LIGO. He discovered how to significantly reduce the thermal noise in the material fused silica, which led to the selection of fused silica for the Advanced LIGO mirror substrates and suspensions.

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