Binary pulsars and relativistic gravity

Astronomy of the 21st Century Distinguished Speaker Series
Joseph H. Taylor, Jr., Princeton University
1800 Dow Chemistry Building, 930 N. University Ave.
Friday, March 13, at 7:30 p.m.

Stop by the Science Learning Center, 1720 Dow Chemistry Building, for refreshments and an open house prior to the lecture. Participants may help to complete a "giant" astronomy crossword puzzle.

Pulsars are neutron stars -- the extremely dense, strongly magnetized, rapidly spinning remnants of supernova explosions. They also appear to be nature's most precise clocks. Discovery of the first orbiting pulsar opened a new field of astrophysics in which the relativistic nature of gravity is tested through precise comparisons of "pulsar time" with atomic time here on Earth. Among other results, the experiments have demonstrated the existence of gravitational waves, as predicted by Einstein's theory of gravity.

Dr. Taylor taught at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, from 1968 to 1980, and since then in the Physics Department, Princeton University, where he is the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of Physics, Emeritus. From 1997 to 2003 he also served as Dean of the Faculty at Princeton. He earned a B.A. in Physics, with honors, from Haverford College in 1963, and a Ph.D. in Astronomy from Harvard University in 1968. His research is in radio astronomy, especially the study of pulsars and their applications to experimental gravitation.

Dr. Taylor is a winner of the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery of a binary pulsar, and his team’s subsequent work that uses the discovery to indirectly confirm the existence of gravitational waves. Professor Taylor is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. He has served on many Boards and advisory committees, such as the recent Committee on Assessment of Options for Extending the Life of the Hubble Space Telescope. In addition to the Nobel Prize, he is the recipient of many other prizes and awards, including the MacArthur Fellowship, the Henry Draper Medal of the National Academy of Sciences, the Einstein Prize of the Albert Einstein Society in Bern, and the Wolf Prize in Physics.

Presented by the Department of Astronomy, the Exhibit Museum of Natural History, and the Student Astronomical Society, and sponsored by the Michigan Center for Theoretical Physics, the University Activities Center, and the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts.







© 2009 Regents of the University of Michigan
Winter 2009 Theme Semester is co-sponsored by the Department of Astronomy
and the Exhibit Museum of Natural History
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