Do you recall the post from a while back that focused on the research being done by Vatican Observatory scientists? This is another “Science at the V.O.” post. From the evening of Monday May 8 through the morning of Friday May 12 the V.O. hosted a conference entitled “Black Holes, Gravitational Waves, and Spacetime Singularities”. The conference was organized by Dr. Gabriele Gionti, S. J.
When I was visiting the V.O. in March I had the pleasure of meeting, talking with, and even hanging out at an Albano Laziale coffee shop expounding upon Kentucky community college life to, Fr. Gionti. Gionti is a native of Italy who earned his master’s and doctoral degrees in physics in the 1990’s, joined the Jesuits in 2000, was assigned to the V.O. in 2004, and ordained a priest in 2010. Since joining the Jesuits he has picked up several more degrees, in philosophy and theology. Gionti is a very educated man, but if you are imagining him as some sort of aloof genius who wanders around with his head in the clouds, well imagine instead an approachable, soft-spoken but very conversational fellow wandering through the town square in a hoodie sweatshirt.
Gionti’s conference was in part to celebrate the legacy of Fr. Georges Lemaître, the Belgian priest who, building on Albert Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, first theorized about the idea now known as “The Big Bang”. Indeed the first talk of the conference was by the historian of science Helge Kragh, who spoke on “The scientific life of Georges Lemaître”.
The V.O.’s web page for the conference states:
The recent detection of gravitational waves has opened a new window in our understanding of the Universe, and it has also excited new speculations on the true nature of the singularities that signal the breakdown of the classical description of the spacetime at the beginning of the universe and at the endpoint of gravitational collapse. What are the current limits of modern scientific cosmology? What are the real scientific challenges that can be explored in the near future? The main goal of this workshop is to encourage interaction among the participants, between theory and observation, and to provide a stimulating and thought-provoking environment for new ideas.
Speakers and topics included:
Helge Kragh: The scientific life of Georges Lemaitre
Alex Filippenko: Type Ia Supernovae, Dark Energy, and the Hubble Constant
Nicola Vittorio: Strong evidence for an accelerating universe
Astrid Eichhorn: The asymptotic safety paradigm for quantum spacetime and matter
Francesca Vidotto: Measuring the last burst of non-singular black holes
Edmund Bertschinger: The Internal Structure of Spinning Black Holes
Roberto Casadio: Horizon Quantum Mechanics for spherically symmetric and rotating sources
Krzysztof Meissner: Conformal anomaly and gravitational waves
Alessia Platania: Cosmic Censorship in Quantum Einstein Gravity
Nicholas Suntzeff: The Observer’s Universe
Gerard ‘t Hooft: Virtual Black Holes and space-time structure
Georgi Dvali: Secret Quantum Life of Black Holes
Giovanni A. Prodi: Gravitational waves searches by the network of ground-based interferometers
Renata Kallosh: From the sky to the fundamental physics
Joe Silk: The Limits of Cosmology
Donato Bini: Black hole perturbations: a review of recent analytical results
Zoltan Haiman: Merging Supermassive Black Hole Binaries
Achim Kempf: How can the singularities of black holes and of cosmologies be regulated without breaking local Lorentz invariance?
Paolo Salucci: Supermassive Black Holes in Galaxies. A portal to the nature of dark matter?
Michael Turner: Looking beyond ΛCDM to solve the big mysteries in cosmology
Roger Penrose: The Big Bang and its Dark-Matter Content: Whence, Whither, and Wherefore
Andrei Linde: Inflation: Theory and Observations
George Ellis: The Standard Cosmological Model: Its nature, and Queries
Alessandra Buonanno: Observing the Signature of Dynamical Space-Time through Gravitational Waves
Luigi Stella: Probing the strong gravitational field of accreting black holes with X-ray observations
Elisa Bortolas: Massive Black Hole Binaries and their Hosts: a common journey towards Gravitational Waves Alexander Kamenshchik: Singularity crossing, transformation of matter properties and the problem of parametrization in field theories Miok Park: Energent Metric from the Kitaeve Superconductor Model
Frank Saueressig: Cosmic perturbations from Asymptotic Safety
François Bouchet: 50 years of CMB research: what is next?
That sounds like one pretty cool conference—made all the cooler by its location at the V.O. in Italy.