Education and Public Outreach

Gravity has a story to tell.

Matter in motion generates ripples that propagate in spacetime. Known as gravitational waves, these ripples travel out from the source, much like waves generated by a stone tossed into a pond. Gravitational waves are weakly interacting and thus difficult to detect. The strongest gravitational waves are generated by massive, compact objects such as white dwarfs, neutron stars and black holes, moving at close to light-speed. Advanced technology has now brought the direct detection of these waves within reach. The first generation of ground-based interferometer detectors are coming on-line, great advances have been made in cryogenic acoustic detector technology, and space-based observatories are currently under development. With the first detection, gravitational wave astronomy will open a new window to the Universe allowing astronomers to probe environments thus far inaccessible to conventional telescopes.

Outreach Activities and Programs

  • NEW! Einstein's Messengers - A streaming video about detecting gravitational waves.
  • StarDate Radio: To help celebrate the 100 year anniversary of Einstein's publication on special relativity the CGWP co-sponsored and collaborated with McDonald Observatory on four StarDate episodes that aired during the last week of June in 2005. Three episodes on gravitational waves will air during the last week of April in 2006.
  • Gravitational Wave Icebreaker Activity: In this activity participants work together in groups to match gravitational wave templates with mock data streams that represent signals from astrophysical systems. Download preprint article, phys/0503198.

Gravitational Wave Websites

Gravitational Wave Articles

  • Ripples on a Cosmic Sea
    by Shane L. Larson, published in Quantum Magazine (March/April 2001, pp. 4-9).
  • Catch a Gravitational Wave
    by Marcia Bartusiak, published in Astronomy Magazine (October 2000, pp. 76-81). Article available at no charge courtesy of Astronomy Magazine.
  • LIGO: An Antenna Tuned to the Songs ofGravity
    by Gary H. Sanders and David Beckett, published in Sky and Telescope (October 2000, pp. 40-48). Article available at Sky and Telescope Magazine.
  • Teaching Einstein to Dance: The Dynamic World of General Relativity
    by Adam Frank, published in Sky and Telescope (October 2000, pp. 50-56). Article available at Sky and Telescope Magazine.
  • A Prehistory of Gravitational Waves
    by Daniel Kennefick, published in Sky and Telescope (October 2000, pp. 58-64). Article available at Sky and Telescope magazine.

Relativity and More!

  • Einstein-Online a website about Einstein's theories of relativity (including information on gravitational waves) from the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics.