Astronomy’s New Messengers

The Brazos Valley Museum of Natural History is pleased to present the traveling exhibit, Astronomy’s New Messengers: Listening to the Universe with Gravitational Waves, May 17 – Sept 1, 2012. The exhibit opening, free to the public, begins at 6:00 pm, Thursday, May 17, with a fascinating presentation by Dr. Nicholas Suntzeff, an award-winning observational astronomer holding the Mitchell/Heep/Munnerlyn Chair of Astronomy in the Department of Physics & Astronomy at Texas A&M University. Gallery viewing and a wine and hor d'oeuvres reception will follow.

Astronomy’s New Messengers strives to increase interest in, and understanding of, astronomy and the science of gravitational waves. The broad vision of this outreach project is to create a new culture blending art and science. LIGO, which stands for the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, is a large-scale physics experiment aiming to directly detect ripples in space and time. The LIGO scientific endeavor is driven by the same desire for exploration, the curiosity for the unknown, and the awe of nature. It challenges our concept of the perception of nature. In this respect, science and art are two facets of the same human quest for beauty and truth. Therefore, Astronomy's New Messengers is not only science: it is art.

The exhibit presents a unique opportunity for visitors to introduce themselves to the world of space and time as envisioned by Albert Einstein. The display will also include fantastic images of the Universe captured by the world's fleet of ground and space-based telescopes, local tektites and meteorites, as well as some selected items from the physics department. To maximize its impact, Astronomy's New Messengers reproduces the physics and technology of the actual LIGO instrument in an eye catching and entertaining way, incorporating interactive displays and activities. An internet video about the exhibit is available here: http://worldsciencefestival.com/videos/astronomys_new_messengers.

This exhibit was made possible in part through Hotel Tax Revenue funded from the City of College Station through the Arts Council of Brazos Valley and through underwriting provided by the William Knox Holt Foundation, the George P. and Cynthia Woods Mitchell Institute for Fundamental Physics and Astronomy, the Department of Physics and Astronomy and the College of Science at Texas A&M University, the University of Mississippi, and the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO).

"Colliding Black Holes" courtesy of Werner Benger, Zuse Institute Berlin, Max-Planck Institute fuer Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute) and the Center for Computation & Technology at Louisiana State University.