Board member news

A great day for fundamental science

Professor Karen Holford FREng, FLSW, CEng FIMechE
Professor Karen Holford FREng, FLSW, CEng FIMechE

The excitement last week when one of the biggest breakthroughs in physics for the last 100 years was announced reinforces how great it is to work as a scientist– and our scientists in the School of Physics and Astronomy at Cardiff University played a key role.

Deemed the final piece of the jigsaw to Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity, the detection of gravitational waves will usher in a new era for astronomy.

The direct observation of two black holes colliding completes 50 years’ work of searching for the signals and, thanks to the key contribution of Gravitational Physics Group in our School of Physics and Astronomy, will allow Einstein’s theories to be tested further, giving researchers a new window to observe extreme cosmic events that are occurring in the Universe.

It’s one of those discoveries that is so big and so exciting that it appeals to all ages and backgrounds. For days following the announcement, everyone I met, from industry leaders to taxi drivers, was talking about this discovery. It was also the subject of many discussions at home with my teenage children as I’m sure it was at dinner tables around the world.

To see Cardiff’s name so prominently placed as part of this discovery makes me very proud. As a PhD student I was exposed to this project, as one of my closest friends was an RA on the team and I’m so pleased to see this work resulting in such global interest. As a University we have always shown commitment to supporting fundamental science, and discoveries like this demonstrate why that commitment is so critical.

This video, produced by our in-house digital production team, does a great job of explaining this complex subject in a way that we can all understand.