The 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics for Black Holes

ONLINE EVENT: Wed 21 Oct 11am AEDT

Presented by Susan Scott and David Blair

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In the first half of the talk Susan will outline the development of the concept of singularities and the related notion of a black hole in General Relativity theory. She will describe Roger Penrose’s spectacular theoretical breakthrough in this field for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize. David will briefly touch on Penrose’s other work, and then present an overview of the quest to explore the centre of the Milky Way, and why it was of special interest to gravitational wave physicists. He will review the seminal contributions by Australian radio astronomy pioneers, and then outline the discoveries made by Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez for which they were also co-recipients of the Nobel Prize.

David Blair is a gravitational wave physicist who has spent more than 4 decades developing methods for the detection of gravitational waves. In 1984 he invented the sapphire clock. During the 1990s he set up the Gingin gravitational wave research centre. The Gingin centre researched techniques which were implemented in the LIGO gravitational wave detectors that eventually detected gravitational waves in 2015. He is a founding member of the OzGrav Centre of Excellence for Gravitational Wave Discovery.

In 2003 Blair founded the Gravity Discovery Centre – a major Centre for the promotion of science in Western Australia. In 2010 Blair and collaboration partners developed the Science Education Enrichment Project that evolved into the Einstein-First Project which aims to introduce Einsteinian Physics at an early age. In 2019 a 7-nation international collaboration was funded with the aim of re-designing the entire school curriculum starting at primary school, to reflect the modern understanding of space, time, matter and radiation.

Blair is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science and the American Physical Society. He shared the Breakthrough Prize with all members of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration in 2016.

Susan Scott is Professor of Theoretical Physics in the Centre for Gravitational Astrophysics at The Australian National University, and is a Chief Investigator with the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Gravitational Wave Discovery (OzGrav). She is a General Relativity theorist working in the areas of singularity theory, black holes, gravitational waves and cosmology, and is a member of the team which directly detected gravitational waves in 2015. She spent four years on a Rhodes Fellowship in Oxford working with the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics recipient Roger Penrose. Prof Scott is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, European Academy of Sciences, American Physical Society, Australian Institute of Physics, Institute of Physics and Australian Mathematical Society, and has been the recipient of a number of international prizes.

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