Van Vleck Lecture: "Quantum Mechanics in the Detection of Gravitational Waves"

Registration Required • Free

Join the School of Physics and Astronomy for the 2022 Van Vleck lecture featuring Professor William Unruh of the University of British Columbia. Guests are invited to attend in person or watch the livestream by Zoom.

Register for the event!

Advance registration is required. Register by April 19.

The detection of gravitational waves from events such as the collision of black holes is based on one of the most exquisitely sensitive experiments in the world. Although the energy released in the original collision is as large as that from anything humans have ever observed, the resulting ripples in space-time are so small by the time they reach the earth that they generate displacements less than a billionth of a billionth of a meter. At present, the key source of noise limiting the sensitivity in these experiments is due to quantum mechanics. Given that the detector mirrors weigh 40 kg, it is astounding that the quantum theory originally developed for atoms matters in this case for macroscopic objects. This year’s Van Vleck lecture will explore this phenomenon. Things can go strangely in the quantum world, and Professor Unruh will show how it is possible to reduce the effects of this noise by actually injecting more quantum noise into the detector.


Start date
Wednesday, April 20, 2022, 7 p.m.

Coffman Memorial Union, Theater
300 Washington Ave. SE

Guests are invited to attend in person or watch the livestream by Zoom.