West Virginia University physics professors Duncan Lorimer and Maura McLaughlin are well known among the scientific community for their research on pulsars.

On Tuesday, Feb. 1, they will share some of that research with the WVU and Morgantown community as part of the 2010 David C. Hardesty, Jr. Festival of Ideas lecture series.

“Einstein’s unfinished symphony: Detecting gravitational waves with pulsars” will be held at 7:30 p.m. at the Mountainlair. The presentation is co-sponsored by the Nath Lecture Series. The series is funded through an endowment by Drs. Joginder Nath, a WVU genetics professor, and Charlotte Nath, a WVU professor in family medicine.

Pulsars – discovered more than 40 years ago – are rapidly rotating stellar remnants formed in the explosive deaths of massive stars.

Lorimer and McLaughlin are known for their significant research on pulsars and are part of an international research team that, through the use of pulsars, intends to detect gravitational waves, which are a key prediction of Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

WVU has been awarded $6.5 million from the National Science Foundation as part of the international research team, called the Partnerships for International Research and Education Program. McLaughlin is the principal investigator on the grant.

So far, the research has yielded the discovery of new pulsars, more sensitive telescopes and improved detection algorithms.

Both Lorimer and McLaughlin teach physics and astronomy courses to WVU undergraduate and graduate students. Lorimer was a recipient of the 2010 WVU Foundation Award for Outstanding Teaching and Cottrell Scholar Award; McLaughlin received the Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, Cottrell Scholar Award and was named a 2009- 10 outstanding researcher.

The David C. Hardesty Jr. Festival of Ideas is named after WVU’s former president who created the lecture series. Each year, the festival brings key figures from the fields of sports, politics, business, entertainment, research, scholarship and culture to Morgantown.

The series is supported in part by the David C. Hardesty Jr. Festival of Ideas Endowment.

The next Festival of Ideas speaker will be award-winning journalist and best-selling author Sebastian Junger. He will talk about his most recent book “WAR” and his documentary film “Restrepo” on Feb. 21 at the Clay Center in Charleston and Feb. 22 at 7:30 p.m. at the Creative Arts Center in Morgantown.

For more information on the 2010-11 Festival of Ideas, visit http://festivalofideas.wvu.edu/.



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