When David Reitze was invited onto the LIGO team it took him “only a few seconds” to make up his mind. “As a scientist, I couldn’t resist!,” he says now. Twenty years ago, however, it was far from being an obvious decision, since back then “many felt that gravitational waves would never be detected.” Even Albert Einstein, who predicted their existence one hundred years ago, doubted that it could ever be proven. Reitze, a laser expert researching into ultrafast processes in matter who was also keenly interested in the study of General Relativity, joined LIGO in 1996 because, he says, “it had everything a great science campaign should have – really cool and cutting edge technologies, a huge science payoff that would reveal new things about the Universe, and a tremendous amount of difficulty and risk.”
For students of the Universe, Earth’s atmosphere has been a cause of some resentment, because it gets in the way of a more precise observation of cosmic events. Now, however, it turns out to be a giant (and cheap!) detector of high-energy gamma rays. An international consortium has harnessed this capacity and created a telescope array to study gamma radiation, and advance understanding of dark matter and cosmic objects like quasars, supernovas and black holes. And perhaps even to clarify the structure of space-time. The part of the network corresponding to the northern hemisphere will be sited at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory in La Palma (Canary Islands). On November 22, astrophysicist Werner Hofmann of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics (Germany), will speak in the BBVA Foundation about this cutting-edge research effort, in a lecture titled “Astronomy with Very-High-Energy Gamma Rays: The Sky in a New Light.”
The BBVA Foundation and Fundació Joan Miró present “Endgame. Duchamp, chess and the avant-gardes,” revisiting the history of modern art through the prism of its relationship with chess. Curated by Manuel Segade, the exhibition will run from October 29 to January 22 at the Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona.
The center of our own galaxy, the Milky Way, is home to a black hole of a mass equivalent to around four million suns. It cannot be seen – its gravitational pull is so strong that it absorbs even light – but its discoverer, Reinhard Genzel, is clear that evidence gathered over more than twenty years has proved its existence “beyond any reasonable doubt”. Genzel, Director of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (Garching, Germany) and professor in the Physics Department at the University of California, Berkeley (USA) will explain his findings on Wednesday, October 19, as the latest speaker in the BBVA Foundation lecture series ‘Science of the Cosmos. Science in the Cosmos’.
The BBVA Foundation Awards for Biodiversity Conservation recognize individuals and organizations working to protect nature that have achieved significant, measurable results of lasting impact. The awards in this 10th edition have been bestowed on Grupo para la Rehabilitación de la Fauna Autóctona y su Hábitat (GREFA); the Conservation Land Trust (CLT) founded by philanthropist Douglas Tompkins; and communications professional Carlos de Hita, a regular contributor to newspaper El Mundo, Cadena SER radio and other media, which broadcast his haunting soundscapes of nature.