Albert Einstein was right. After decades of searching, a recent scientific discovery—the detection by astronomers of gravitational waves in space—has proved Einstein’s predictions and opened a new window through which to study the universe.

Dr. Larry Marschall, professor of physics, emeritus, at Gettysburg College, will present “TINY BIT OF SHAKIN’ GOIN’ ON: Gravitational Waves and the Universe” on Thursday, February 2 at 7 p.m. in the Visitors Center at Renfrew Park in Waynesboro. The program is free and open to the public.

“The existence of gravitational waves was predicted by Albert Einstein a century ago in his theory of general relativity, but until now they could not be detected,” Marschall said. 

On September 14, 2015, two unusual observatories, one in Louisiana and another in Washington state, recorded the near-simultaneous arrival of gravitational waves, the first time these subtle distortions of space had been detected.

“This discovery, perhaps the most remarkable and challenging astronomical measurement of the century, opened up a new way for astronomers to study the universe,” said Marschall. 

The program will give some background on the nature of these “odd ripples in the cosmos” and explain how, by observing changes on the earth’s surface that are smaller than the nucleus of an atom, astronomers are now able to study some of the most powerful events in the universe—the collisions of black holes millions of light years away.

A professor of astronomy and physics for many years, Marschall was a visiting research scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, and at Yale University Observatory. He wrote The Supernova Story, published by Princeton University Press, and is a contributing editor for Smithsonian Air & Space Magazine and for several other professional journals. Marschall has a bachelor’s degree in engineering physics from Cornell University and a Ph.D in astronomy and astrophysics from University of Chicago. 

A question-and-answer session will follow Marschall’s presentation. Weather permitting, the Tri-State Astronomers club will set up telescopes for sky viewing after the program.

This program was arranged in cooperation with the Tri-State Astronomers. It is underwritten in part by Marge Kiersz, Lucinda D. Potter, CPA, Smith Elliott Kearns & Company, and by Renfrew Institute’s Today’s Horizon Fund contributors: The Nora Roberts Foundation, APX Enclosures, Inc., and the Carolyn Terry Eddy Family: Carolyn, with daughters Connie Fleagle & Kim Larkin. Facility support is provided courtesy of Renfrew Museum and Park.

Parking is available behind the Visitor Center with additional parking in the lower lot off Welty Rd. For more information, call the institute at 762-0373 or email to: