At today's Convocation, Dr. Gordon Melson, Dean of the Graduate School, announced Prof. Greg Cook of the Department of Physics winner of the 2006 Award for Excellence in Research.
Prof. Cook is a leader in the field of numerical relativity, modeling collisions of neutron stars and black hole pairs, and the release of gravity waves from such collisions.
There have been only two major advances in observational astronomy. In 1610, Galileo invented the first telescope capable of extending our view of the heavens, revealing the moons of Jupiter and supporting the Copernican view of the universe. In the 1930’s, Karl Jansky and Grote Reber developed radio telescopes and radio astronomy, paving the way for the discovery of whole new classes of bizarre objects such as quasars. We are now at the dawn of the third era of astronomy with the opening of LIGO, the Long Baseline Interference Gravity Observatory. For the first time, we will be able to see gravity waves.
Gravity waves will allow us to see events such as colliding black holes and neutron stars, previously invisible to us. More important may be astronomical sources that we have not anticipated.
Greg Cook’s work will be crucial in elucidating the signals from LIGO. His computer simulations of gravity wave sources will enable astronomers to identify the causes of these signals.