Finding the odd notes in the gravitational wave song
Abstract: Gravitational wave detection is now a reality and our most important probe to investigate gravity at the highly dynamical strong-field regime. This new observational tool allows us to see the most bizarre effects of general relativity near neutron stars and black holes. I will spend the first part of the talk to explain the basics of gravitational waves in terms of the physical mechanisms that generate them, their theoretical calculation using state-of-the-art computational tools, and finally their detection. General relativity has not been tested in the dynamical strong-field regime where many field theories are known to break down. Thus, it is natural to analyze the gravitational wave data to find any deviations from general relativity. In the second part of the talk, I will give an overview of what can and cannot be achieved by gravitational wave science in terms of alternative theories of gravitation. I will specifically go through a class of alternative theories based on non-minimally coupled bosonic fields, of which the best known example is the spontaneous scalarization scenario of scalar-tensor theories.
Reminder: Tea and cookies will be in the seminar room before the seminar.