HKUST 25th Anniversary Distinguished Speakers Series

Gravitational Waves, Colliding Black Holes and the Advanced LIGO Detections


The talk discusses the exciting discovery of gravitational waves after a 100 year journey filled with missteps and issues. The detections also lead to new views of black holes and tests of General Relativity.

Background reading: Cervantes-Cota, J.L.; Galindo-Uribarri, S.; Smoot, G.F. A Brief History of Gravitational Waves. Universe 2016, 2, 22., available at


About the speaker

Prof. George Smoot was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2006, jointly with Prof John Mather, for their work that led to the “discovery of the black body form and anisotropy of the cosmic microwave background radiation”. This work helped further the Inflationary Universe and the Big Bang theory of the universe.

Prof. Smoot received his Bachelor degrees in Mathematics and Physics and his PhD in Physics in 1970 from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has been at the University of California at Berkeley and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory since 1970. He is also Chair of the Endowment Fund "Physics of the Universe" of Paris Center for Cosmological Physics and the IAS Helmut & Anna Pao Sohmen Professor-at-Large at HKUST.

Prof. Smoot was elected as a member of the US National Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of the American Physical Society. He has been honored by several universities worldwide with doctorates or professorships. He was also the recipient of the NASA Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement (1991), Lawrence Award from the US Department of Energy (1995), Einstein Medal from Albert Einstein Society (2003), Daniel Chalonge Medal from the International School of Astrophysics (2006) and Gruber Prize in Cosmology (2006).

Prof. Smoot is an author of more than 500 science papers and is also co-author (with Keay Davidson) of the popularized scientific book Wrinkles in Time (Harper, 1994) that elucidates cosmology and the discovery of NASA's Cosmic Background Explorer. A great teacher and a keen advocate of popular science, Prof. Smoot received the Oersted Medal in 2009 for his notable contributions to the teaching of physics.


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