February 5, 2020

Welcome to the Invisible Universe! Secret Science Club presents Astrophysicist Chiara Mingarelli, Tuesday February 18, 8PM @ the Bell House, FREE!

Gravitational waves in space-time are like ripples in a pond caused by a pebble thrown in the water—that is, if the pebble’s impact had the energy of, say, our own Sun exploding. Predicted by Einstein in 1916, gravitational waves proved devilishly difficult to detect. It was only in 2015 that scientists were first able to pinpoint the existence of a real-life gravitational wave, echoing across space-time as the result of a collision of two black holes more than a billion miles away.

That discovery ushered in a new “wave” in astronomy: Gravitational waves aren’t just fascinating phenomena—they are a whole new way to study the cosmos. Astrophysicist Chiara Mingarelli is part of a consortium of international scientists, working on new methods to predict and detect gravitational waves in an effort to understand the large portion of the Universe that remains invisible to us.

At the next Secret Science Club, Dr. Mingarelli asks:
--Are there different kinds gravitational waves? Why are some harder to detect than others?
--What might gravitational waves teach us about dark matter, dark energy, black holes, and the Big Bang?
--What role do pulsars (those super-freaky but super-reliable, rotating, radio-wave emitting neutron stars) play in gravitational wave research?

Before & After
--Pulse and flow to grooooovitational tunes
--Contemplate the Universe with Dark Energy, our cocktail of the night
--Stick around for the stellar Q&A

Chiara Mingarelli is an astrophysicist at the Flatiron Institute’s Center for Computational Astrophysics and an assistant professor of physics at the University of Connecticut. Her core research is focused on using Pulsar Timing Arrays to detect low-frequency gravitational waves. She is a member of NANOGrav (the North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves), a consortium of scientists, using an international network of radio telescopes to detect gravitational waves caused by the merger of supermassive black holes. She has written for Scientific American and been a featured scientist on Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls, Quartz News, and the Science Channel’s How the Universe Works.

This astronomical edition of Secret Science Club meets Tuesday, February 18, 8 pm @ the Bell House, 149 7th St. (between 2nd and 3rd avenues) in Gowanus, Brooklyn. Subway: F or G to 4th Ave; R to 9th St.

Doors open at 7:30 pm. Please bring ID: 21+. No cover. Just bring your smart self!

Image credits: Chiara Mingarelli: Flatiron Institute; Gravitational Waves: NASA/C. Henze

This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.