Wheaton Grad. Hunts for Gravitational Waves
Steven Palladino's ('13) Presentation about his Doctoral Research
Gravitational waves, according to the LIGO-CALTECH website, are “ripples in space-time caused by some of the most violent and energetic processes in the universe.” Albert Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves in his 1916 general theory of relativity. Gravitational waves were first physically detected in 2015 as part of the LIGO experiment.
Steven Palladino’s ('13) doctoral research at the University of Cincinnati attempts to detect gravitational waves produced during the early moments of the birth of the universe. The Cosmic Inflation theory theorizes that gravitational waves were produced during the early rapid expansion of the universe. Detecting these gravitational waves will tell us, according to Steven, how the universe grew in the early stages into the cosmic structure we see today. Steven helped design and operate several telescopes as part of the BICEP collaboration and discuses three challenges that the team had to overcome to detect the gravitational waves. The first challenge, atmospheric disturbance, was solved by locating instruments at the South Pole. The second challenge of faint gravitational wave signals from the birth of the universe was actively solved by cooling detectors used in the project. The third challenge of nuisance signals from the Milky Way galaxy interfering with the gravitational wave signals was solved by using multiple telescopes. Palladino explains the details of solving these challenges and the current state of his research.