Merging Black Holes is the Subject of the Sigma Xi Lectures at Williams College

Media contact: Noelle Lemoine, communications assistant; tele: (413) 597-4277; email: [email protected]

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., October 3, 2018—Marek Demianski, visiting professor of astronomy at Williams College, will present “Gravitational Waves: A New Window on the Universe” for the college’s autumn Sigma Xi lecture. The talk will take place on Thursday, Oct. 18, at 4:15 p.m. in Thompson Chemistry’s Wege Auditorium. There will be a second, more technical, talk on the subject Friday, Oct. 19, at 4:15 p.m. in Wege Auditorium. Both talks are free and open to the public.

How does our current era, since the 2015 discovery of the first merging black holes, compare with the years right after Galileo first turned his telescope to the heavens? How does LIGO, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory, detect such a small change in space that it is like the thickness of a human hair compared with the distance to the nearest star beyond the sun? How does finding merging pulsars from the gravitational waves that resulted compare with the gamma-ray, x-ray, visible, and radio observations of the same event? In his talk, Demianski will answer these and other intriguing questions connected with the massive explosions going on around the Universe and how they led to chirps transformed into the audible range.

Demianski holds an M.S. and a Ph.D. from the University of Warsaw, where he is a member of the Institute of Theoretical Physics. Previously, he served as director of the Copernicus Astronomical Center in Warsaw and Torun. Demianski has been a visiting professor at Williams more than 13 times since 1983. His research is in relativistic astrophysics and cosmology, and in 2004 he was the recipient of the Gamow Medal for his work on formation of large-scale structure in the universe.

Sigma Xi is a national society honoring and encouraging research in science since 1886. The Williams Chapter was founded in 1969. It recognizes exceptional graduating students in the sciences each year. The Sigma Xi lecture is a biannual event highlighting the current research of a Williams faculty member.


Wege Auditorium is in the Thompson Chemical Laboratory on the Adam Falk Science Quad, past the construction on the site of the Bronfman Science Center. A map of campus buildings can be found on the web at


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Sigma Xi Speakers