The future of black holes is brighter than you’d imagine, guest lecturer says

Inside Umberger Hall, Gabriela Gonzalez delivers a lecture over "the history and details of the observations of gravitational waves traveling through the earth." (Rowan Jones | Collegian Media Group)

Louisiana State University professor of physics Gabriela Gonzalez shed light on recent breakthroughs in Albert Einstein’s theories, gravity and black holes in Tuesday’s non-technical science lecture.

Kansas State welcomed Gonzalez, an acclaimed physicist originally from Argentina, to present the latest edition of the James R. Neff lecture series.

Gonzalez said she aspires to enlighten the world on the recent breakthroughs regarding gravity and black holes that have led to strengthening Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.

Gonzalez explained the basis for a black hole to give context to the discovery.

“A black hole is one of the predictions of Einstein’s theory of relativity,” Gonzalez said. “Although it is actually a very simple object, it is so dense that the force of gravity is so strong that it doesn’t let light get out. If light doesn’t get out of the system, then the system is black. Hence, it is called a black hole.”

The first detection of gravitational waves was made by Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory after the “tango,” as Gonzalez called it, of a binary star system collapsed approximately 1 billion years ago, forming a black hole.

This discovery provides evidence for one of the last unverified predictions of Einstein’s general Theory of Relativity, Gonzalez said.

On Feb. 11, 2016, Gonzalez, alongside some of her physics idols like Kip Thorne, was at a press conference in Washington, D.C. to announce the discovery.

“I have to tell you that we were so nervous,” Gonzalez said.

She also said this date is memorable because it was coincidentally the first annual celebration of women in science, as established by the United Nations.

Many K-State faculty members from the department of physics and other similar disciplines were in attendance.

“It’s a really nice discovery of gravitational waves since that took a hundred years or so,” Bharat Ratra, distinguished professor of physics, said. “The experimental techniques and the consequences are going to be revolutionary.”

Brett DePaola, professor of physics, said hosting Gonzalez is a privilege.

“We are really fortunate to have somebody of Professor Gonzalez’s status to come here and give us such an outstanding lecture,” DePaola said.