The Cosmic Controversy Podcast featuring Duncan Lorimer
Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) have hogged the headlines for the last decade or so; prompting many news organizations to question whether they are produced by far-flung alien civilizations in the midst of some sort of bizarre intergalactic transport mechanism. The truth however is likely much more mundane; they could be flashes from Hawking’s storied evaporating black holes or colliding neutron stars or something we have simply failed to imagine. But in this podcast episode, Duncan Lorimer, their co-discoverer, at West Virginia University (WVU) in Morgantown, gives us the straight scoop on what they most likely are and aren’t.
Signals from Deep Space
West Virginia University’s Duncan Lorimer might be the godfather of the fast radio burst, but a pair of international students has taken exploring these mysterious cosmic flashes to a new level.
Devansh Agarwal and Kshitij Aggarwal, both physics and astronomy graduate students from India, recognized this painstaking task so they developed a quicker, more efficient way to detect fast radio bursts. They created artificial intelligent, machine-learning software that sifts through the endless clutters of data.
Fast Radio Bursts: The Story So Far...
Professor Lorimer tells the story of Fast Radio Bursts’ discovery, summarize what we know so far, describe the science opportunities these bursts present, and make predictions for what we will learn in the next decade.
Little Green Men
Learn about the Pulsar Search Collaboratory through this feature length documentary that follows high-school students from Green Bank to their schools to WVU and includes interviews with WVU faculty and students. While not yet available to view or purchase online, you can request a showing of this documentary at your school or institution.
Watch and listen to a danced lecture and orchestral concert about Einstein! This event was held at WVU in April 2017 and attended by over 1000 students and members of the community.
Gravitational waves show scientists the invisible universe
When the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) announced in 2016 that it had discovered gravitational waves, it was a breakthrough moment for astrophysics. They’re a revolutionary new way to study outer space without light—to observe things telescopes can’t, and study the invisible parts of the universe.
Strange Signals from Outer Space
For decades, some have suspected that there might be others out there, intelligent
beings capable of communicating with us, even visiting our world. It might sound
like science fiction, but today scientists from across the globe are scouring the
universe for signals from extraterrestrials.
In 2006, husband-and-wife team Duncan Lorimer and Maura McLaughlin discovered an enigmatic signal from space, known as a fast radio burst. It was a pulse of radiation so bright, it didn't appear to be caused by any known object in the universe.
On July 24, 2001, something arrived on Earth. It would take six years for it to be noticed. And even longer to prove it existed.
Professor Duncan Lorimer tells the story of Fast Radio Bursts’ discovery, and summarize what we know so far. He describes the science opportunities these bursts present, and makes predictions for what we will learn in the next decade. Along with Lorimer, Professors Maura McLaughlin and Sarah Burke-Spolaor discuss FRBs and further explore the mysteries surrounding them with WVU's Diana Mazzella on the Sparked Podcast, Episode 10.
The students are at the Green Bank Observatory in the National Radio Quiet Zone.
There is no cell service. The teens are there because they are in the Pulsar Search
Collaboratory, a group that has seen hundreds of kids who, for more than a decade,
have been looking for a type of star called a pulsar.
Explore the Pulsar Search Collaboratory through the Sparked Podcast, Episode 9.
Real Talk presented by
To kick off the Real Talk series of fireside chats at Vantage Ventures, a catalyst for insightful, personal conversations around the topics people care most about, was Drs. Maura McLaughlin and Duncan Lorimer, married radio-astronomers between Green Bank Observatory and WVU.