Apr. 1, 2011
An innovative new interactive exhibit is coming to Shawnee State University – the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, "Astronomy's New Messengers: Listening to the Universe with Gravitational Waves."
This special exhibit, courtesy of the National Science Foundation and the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, will be on view at Shawnee State from Friday, April 15 through Friday, Aug. 29 covering the entire West Lobby of the University Center near Jazzman's.
"LIGO represents a bold new direction in astronomy," said Timothy Hamilton, Ph.D., assistant professor of Natural Sciences and director of the Clark Planetarium. "This is a phenomenal museum-quality exhibit, and we are privileged to have it."
It is free and open to the public during University Center hours, Monday through Friday 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and weekends 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the semester. Summer hours will be announced at a later date.
The LIGO Exhibit Open House reception is scheduled with a social hour at 6:30 p.m. in the Richards Rotunda in SSU's Clark Memorial Library on Friday, April 15 followed by a lecture, "The Sounds of Space-Time" at 7 p.m. in the Flohr Lecture Hall with Marco Cavaglia, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Mississippi, who works directly with LIGO. The public is invited to the Open House and the exhibit will be open for viewing before and after the lecture.
A constantly changing, artwork of light is elevated above the exhibit. This art is not merely aesthetic – this dazzling light sculpture suspended overhead represents the universe.
The exhibit, designed by renowned New York-based firm L.H. Skolnick Architecture + Design Partnership (http://skolnick.com/), is an interpretive close-up of more than 800 physicists and astronomers worldwide who have joined together in search of gravitational waves from the most violent astrophysical events in the universe.
Gravitational waves are vibrations in the fabric of space-time caused by colliding black holes, exploding stars and even the big bang itself. To see more about this fantastic exhibit, visit the Website at http://ligo.phy.olemiss.edu/LIGOexhibit/.
Einstein predicted the existence of these gravitational waves in his 1916 general theory of relativity, but only now in the 21st Century has technology advanced to enable their detection and study by science.
The LIGO project is a National Science Foundation sponsored project being managed jointly by the California Institute of Technology and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The project has two sensitive laser range finders to detect the vibrations, one in eastern Washington on the U.S. Department of Energy's Hanford Site and the other in Livingston, Louisiana near Louisiana State University.
Beginning at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 14, the Clark Planetarium will be showing "Black Holes" in conjunction with the LIGO exhibit. The show will be repeated on Thursday, April 21 and Thursday, April 28.
All shows are free and open to the public. For more information, call (740) 351-3147.