Tuesday, March 12, 2019 -- time to be determined -- Physical Sciences Complex (PSC) building


The quest to detect gravitational waves began with the pioneering work of Joseph (Joe) Weber, a University of Maryland Professor of Electrical Engineering and Physics. In the late 1950s, the theoretical picture of gravitational waves became more clear and they were understood to be a physical effect that could, in principal, be measured. Weber was the first person to embrace the possibility of actually detecting gravitational-wave signals and to design detectors to do so.

Weber with bar detectorThe technique he adopted used resonant "bar" detectors, solid aluminum cylinders that were suspended and instrumented to detect the spontaneous ringing that would result from a passing gravitational-wave pulse. Weber and his associates built and operated many such detectors from the 1960s onward. Although they made no confirmed detections, Weber's initiative inspired others to further develop this line of research, leading to the first direction detection of gravitational waves by the LIGO observatories in 2015 and further discoveries by LIGO, Virgo, and a growing international network of detectors.

Weber Memorial Garden photoThe University of Maryland has recently completed the installation of a memorial garden dedicated to Joe Weber and his historic contributions to the development of gravitational wave detection as an observational science. The garden is located near the entrance to the Physical Sciences Complex (PSC) building and features several of Weber's actual aluminum bar detectors, painted to protect them from the elements and placed in an arc as a monument to the early years of this blossoming scientific field. A plaque explains these artifacts to visitors and provides historical context. The PSC building is located at 4296 Stadium Drive, College Park, and is shown here on the university online map.

The Weber Memorial Garden will be formally dedicated on March 12, 2019. Please check this site or watch for other announcements for confirmation of the time.