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16th Einstein Lecture: Prof. Karsten Danzmann

Einstein’s Gravitational Waves: We hear sounds from the dark universe!

Oct 25, 2016

Karsten Danzmann

Karsten Danzmann
Image Credit: F. Vinken/Max-Planck-Gesellschaft

Throughout the ages, we have only been able to see the universe but could not hear it. This is a pity since more than 99 percent of the universe lie in the dark and may never be observable with light or any electromagnetic waves. Since September 14, 2015, everything has changed: the first direct observation of gravitational waves emitted by two colliding and merging black holes opens up a new era of gravitational wave astronomy. We have established a new sensory organ and will be able to hear the universe from now on.

Karsten Danzmann, born in Rotenburg / Wümme on February 6, 1955, recieved his diploma and his doctoral degree (1980) in physics from Leibniz Universität Hannover. He was Scientific Assistant at Leibniz Universität Hannover (1978-1982), Staff Scientist at the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt Berlin (National Metrology Institute of Germany), and Visiting Scientist (1982-1983) as well as Acting Assistant Professor of Physics (1986-1989) at Stanford University, USA. 1990-1993, he was Project Leader Gravitational Waves at Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics Garching. Since 1993, he has been Professor and Director of the Institut für Gravitationsphysik at Leibniz Universität Hannover. In 2002, he was also appointed Director of the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute Hannover).

In 2016, Professor Danzmann received various prizes for his essential contribution to the detection of gravitational waves, among them the Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics and the Gruber Cosmology Prize (both awarded to the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO)-cooperation) and the Niedersächsischer Staatspreis (Lower Saxony State Prize, awarded to Karsten Danzmann, Alessandra Buonanno and Bruce Allen).

The Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics is part of the LIGO-cooperation that announced the detection of gravitational waves in February 2016. It played a significant role e.g. in the development of highly sensitive detectors that made this observation possible.