Colloquium

What Physics Can We Learn with Gravitational Waves?

Einstein's last untested prediction, the existence of gravitational waves, will soon be directly verified, for the first time, by advanced ground-based interferometers, such as LIGO and Virgo.The most interesting gravitational wave science, however, will occur after the excitement of the first detection subsides and we begin to ask what new physical information can be gained with these observations. In this talk, I will focus on the fundamental physics and the nuclear physics information that we will acquire with gravitational waves emitted in the late binary inspiral of compact objects. On the fundamental physics front, I will first review the tests that Einstein's theory has passed in the quasi-stationary, weak field regime and then focus on the new tests we will be able to carry out in the highly-nonlinear, dynamical regime. On the nuclear physics front, I will first review some of the known unknowns in the equation of state of supranuclear matter and then focus on the information that gravitational waves will provide about the internal composition of neutron stars.

Followed by wine and cheese in Pupin 1402.

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