The Sounds of the Cosmos: Gravitational Waves and the Birth of Multi-Messenger Astronomy

The Sounds of the Cosmos: Gravitational Waves and the Birth of Multi-Messenger Astronomy

The Sounds of the Cosmos: Gravitational Waves and the Birth of Multi-Messenger Astronomy

The Sounds of the Cosmos: Gravitational Waves and the Birth of Multi-Messenger Astronomy


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The remarkable story of how humankind discovered gravitational waves, chronicled with unparalleled historical and scientific vision.

In 2016, the LIGO and Virgo Collaborations made headlines when they announced the detection of gravitational waves—a century after Albert Einstein first predicted their existence with his general theory of relativity. With unprecedented perspective as physicists at the forefront of this discovery, Mario Díaz, Gabriela González, and Jorge Pullin provide a comprehensive and accessible account of the quest to find gravitational waves, their controversial history, and the efforts that culminated with their detection and a Nobel Prize in Physics.

The Sounds of the Cosmos vividly narrates contributions from the ancient Greeks through Einstein, in addition to the breakthroughs of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, including the discovery of the Hulse-Taylor binary star system (the first of its kind ever observed) and the technology behind gravitational wave detectors. The authors' fusion of meticulous research and accessible prose makes this book an indispensable resource for the scientifically curious, lending astonishing new context to the revelation that we can “hear” the cosmos through gravitational waves. Written with exceptional historical and conceptual insight, this is a definitive and dazzling journey through “the eternal quest of humankind to understand the universe.”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780262544948
Publisher: MIT Press
Publication date: 02/28/2023
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Mario Díaz is Director of the Center for Gravitational Wave Astronomy at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, where he is also a Professor of Physics and President of the National Society of Hispanic Physicists. Gabriela González is Boyd Professor of Physics & Astronomy at Louisiana State University, a former spokesperson of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC), and a member of the US National Academy of Sciences. Jorge Pullin is Horace Hearne Chair in Theoretical Physics at Louisiana State University and was founding editor of the journal Physical Review X.

Table of Contents

Preface ix
1 Gravity from the Ancient Greeks to Newton 1
2 Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity 15
3 The General Theory of Relativity 29
4 Gravitational Waves: Their Long and Difficult History 55
5 The Life and Death of Stars 77
6 Astrophysical Sources of Gravitational Radiation 89
7 Numerical Relativity 97
8 A Brief History of Terrestrial Gravitational Wave Detectors 105
9 The Technology of LIGO 123
10 At Last: Detections—and Many! 151
11 The Birth of Gravitational Wave Multi-Messenger Astronomy 171
12 The Future 185
Epilogue 197
Acknowledgements 199
Notes 201
Recommended Reading 205
Index 207

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“Rich in historical detail with simple yet elegant explanations of the physics of gravity, The Sounds of the Cosmos will captivate everyone who wants to understand one of the most spectacular scientific breakthroughs of the 21st century.”
David Reitze, Executive Director, LIGO Laboratory, Caltech

“The Sounds of the Cosmos is an engaging book about the science of gravitational-wave astronomy. Readers will appreciate the perspectives of its authors, who participated in the creation of this new field.”
—Rainer Weiss, Emeritus Physics Faculty, MIT; co-recipient, 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics

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