Gravitational Waves – Cypress students involved in groundbreaking research

STEM(2) students with CSUF Physics Professor Dr. Geoffrey Lovelace (center).
STEM(2) students with CSUF Physics Professor Dr. Geoffrey Lovelace (center).

The impacts of stars colliding into one another in the far depths of space, collapsing into black holes billions of years back can now be detected (and Cypress students played a part in the discovery!). This is a momentous breakthrough for physics; one that confirms Albert Einstein’s abstract, 100 year old intuition that gravity is impacted – though on an exceptionally small scale – by galactic events.

Like ripples on a pond, these cosmic excitations pool into our universe and traverse the cosmos as gravitational waves, bending both space and time in their travels. The impact had on our so-called reality is imperceptible… so extraordinarily small and subtle that Einstein himself couldn’t imagine we would ever have the capacity to detect their existence.

As of this year we do. Decades of research, billions of dollars in funding, tens of thousands of scientists from around the globe have developed two Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatories (LIGO) located here in the U.S. (Livingston, LA and Hanford, WA), equipped with an instrument sensitive enough to measure gravitational waves.

Cypress alum and current CSUF Physics student Eric Muniz (center) creating a simple demonstration of gravitational waves. Photograph via the OC Register, Michael Golding.
Cypress alum and current CSUF Physics student Eric Muniz (center) creating a simple demonstration of gravitational waves. Photograph via Michael Golding of the OC Register for the article “CSUF physics students explain their passion for astrophysics,” March 16, 2016.

Taking part in the cutting-edge research are two Cypress College scholars: recent graduate Eric Muniz and current Physics student Sam Rodriguez (Cypress College, Class of 2016). Through our STEM^2 Program’s summer research partnership with Cal State University, Fullerton, both Eric and Sam participated in theoretical modeling at CSUF’s Institute of Gravitational Wave Physics and Astronomy. Eric, for example, joined a team working in optics experimentation and scattered light characterization. In follow-up, both have chosen to continue their undergraduate studies at the Institute, working alongside renowned faculty like Assistant professor of physics Geoffrey Lovelace, a Ph.D. graduate of Caltech (and former student of legendary Nobel prizewinner Richard Feynman!) who has dedicated his career to studying the extreme space-time around black holes using supercomputers.

We are pleased and proud of Eric and Sam and wish them the very best in their future scientific pursuits. For us, it’s pretty awesome that in some small way our institution – via their contributions – is tied to this tremendous scientific discovery.

Dr. Lovelace’s incredible presentation to our Cypress College STEM^2 Program this past April will be posted within the week. He makes the science of gravitational waves – their formation and detection – understandable (lots of cool space visuals ;), and thus all the more mind-bendingly amazing.  To view a gallery of photos from the event, please access the STEM(2) FB album.

Gravitational Waves – a fascinating presentation by CSUF Professor Dr. Geoffrey Lovelace 

#STEM #Physics #GravitationalWaves #Discovery #CSUF
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Cypress College is recognized as one of California’s top community colleges. Recent accolades include:

– #1 in the U.S. | Top Toyota T-TEN Auto-Tech Program in the Nation.

– #2 in C.A. | Top Two ESL & Basic Skills English Programs in California.

– #3 in C.A. | Ranked as a Top Three California Community College (Schools.com)

– #3 in the Region | Ranked Top Three in Greater Los Angeles & Orange County for Student Transfer and Graduation Rates (EdSmart.org)

– 15 of 113 | California Community Colleges piloting a Bachelor’s Degree (Mortuary Science)

– #17 in the U.S. | National Ranking on MTV-U’s website “Rate-My-Professor”

– Top National Licensure Exam Pass Rates | Perfect state licensure pass rates for students in the following programs: Dental Hygiene, Diagnostic Medical Sonography: Abdomen; Diagnostic Medical Sonography (OB/Gyn); Diagnostic Medical Sonography: Physics; and Mortuary Science: Sciences. 90+% state licensure exam pass rates for students in the following programs: Dental Assisting; Mortuary Science (Arts); Radiology Technology. And85%+ state licensure rates for students in: Health Information Technology; Nursing; and Psychiatric Technology.

– 2/3ds of the Class of 2015 qualified for transfer to a UC or CSU institution.

– 76 Orange Empire Athletics Conference Titles

– 25 California Community College Athletic Association State Championship Titles

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