Rothstein and Colleague Win Gravity Research Foundation Prize-Mellon College of Science - Carnegie Mellon University

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Rothstein and Colleague Win Gravity Research Foundation Prize

Ira Rothstein, professor of physics at Carnegie Mellon, and Walter Goldberger, assistant professor of physics at Yale University, recently received a second place award from the Gravity Research Foundation for their essay “Towers of Gravitational Theory.” The prestigious foundation awards acknowledge exceptional research on gravity-related topics. Awards are given for places one through five and several honorable mention citations are given as well.

“The Gravity Research Foundation, founded by Roger Babson, has had a major impact on the progress of theoretical and practical gravity research,” according to the foundation’s Web site. “Many of the top researchers in gravity and gravitation around the world have been encouraged in their research by these prizes.” In their essay, Rothstein and Goldberger describe a “tower of theories” of gravity to explain all the complicated interactions between two black holes spinning towards one another. Rothstein, together with graduate student Rafael Porto, has already used the theories described in the essay to generate the most accurate calculation to date for the theoretical interaction between spinning black holes. Their theories also can be a powerful tool for future gravitational wave experiments, according to the authors. As two black holes approach each other, the effects of gravity cause each hole to deform, resulting in ripples in the fabric of space-time, or gravitational waves. Such waves might soon be detected by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), which is being built near Livingston, La., and at Hanford, Wash., by the California Institute of Technology and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Rothstein, a theorist who conducts research on quantum physics, extra dimensions and the intersection between quantum and cosmic phenomena, received his doctorate from the University of Maryland in 1992. He carried out postdoctoral research at the University of Michigan and the University of California at San Diego until 1997, when he joined the faculty of Carnegie Mellon. He became professor in 2004.

By: Amy Pavlak